Friday, November 08, 2013


St Antoninus of Florence (1389-1459)
Confessionale "Defecerunt ... Scrutantes aliorum peccata sunt confessores" (Prologue)
Bavarian State Library, Munich

The Observant Dominican reformer St Antonino (or Antoninus) was Archbishop of Florence from 1446 until his death in 1459.

Pope Pius II himself   presided over the funeral and his cause was promoted by Pope Adrian VI (who died) but was then canonised by his successor Clement VII in 1523 

Amongst other great works, he wrote a number of manuals for confessors (one in Latin and three in Italian) containing abridgments or extracts from his magnum opus, the Summa Theologica Moralis. All are distinguished by their opening words

The text discusses the powers of the confessor, the seven deadly sins, the manner of interrogating people of different status, and absolution and imposition of penance

Here is another of the works on penance by St Antoninus (1473) on the Library website of the University of Cologne

And another on the website of the library of the University at Darmstadt

He was regarded as a saint almost from the moment of his death

He was one of the great masters of what we would now call pastoral theology. He was no mystic. His advice is down to earth and full of common sense.

The Florentine humanist Ugolini Verrini wrote of him:
"In our time there was Antonino, celebrated as a new Thomas Aquinas, because of his character, his exemplary nature and his written works. He healed the clergy, kept the city free from corruption and was a zealous shepherd who protected his sheep in such a way as to keep their fiercest enemy, the wolf from capturing and slaughtering them if unattended."
Pope Francis too has often spoken of the need for regular attendance at Confession.

In April he preached again on the subject. 

He said that the confessional is neither a “laundromat” for sin removal nor “a torture session” where sins are exchanged for beatings. Confession is a meeting place with Jesus, a place of tenderness. 

He stressed tht we need to approach this sacrament meekly, gladly, with simplicity, with trust and armed with “blessed shame”, the “virtue of humility” by which we recognise ourselves as sinners.