Antonella Barzazi

Una cultura per gli ordini religiosi: l'erudizione

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In the last decades of seventeenth century, while Spanish rule on Italy approaches to the end, religious orders are faced by projects of reform aiming to restore discipline and to reduce the prominent role of regular clergy within the Church. The pontiffs, then the regular superiors themselves point out to Italian monks and friars an example: that of the Maurists, the eager French Benedictine congregation devoted to the works of the Fathers of the Church and to the study of ecclesiastical history. So, as from the turning point of the papacy of Innocent XI Odescalchi, the idea that historical scholarship is the task really proper to religious gains ground. During the first half of eighteenth century the erudite pattern - at the beginning mainly pursued by the Cassinese monks - spreads largely among the orders. The reception of the critical lesson coming from France marked a phase of revival for the convents' schools and libraries and for the regular cultural organization as a whole, just on the eve of the great jurisdictional flurry of the late sixties. Nevertheless the assent to Maurists' methods was severely restrained by the interferences of the orders' controlling bodies and of the Roman Congregations, the Holy Office and the Index.

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