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The Epistle of Merlin on the Popes: A New Source on the Late Medieval Notion of the Angel Pope

The Epistle of Merlin on the Popes: A New Source on the Late Medieval Notion of the Angel Pope By KATELYN MESLER Lege, lege capitulum mei libelli veteris Merlini. -- Cola di Rienzo to Charles IV, 1350 "Two angels shall lead him," predicts The Prophecy of the True Emperor, offering signs by which the people will recognize a foreordained holy leader, sent to restore a divided, besieged, and weakened Christendom. Although this prophecy, which was translated from Greek into Latin in the second half of the thirteenth century, spoke only of an emperor, western Christians soon came to ignore or even change the word "emperor," preferring to read the text as a prophecy concerning the papacy.1 The peculiar reception of that prophecy cannot be understood apart from a crucial conceptual development that occurred in Italy during the years surrounding the turn of the fourteenth century. Whereas many thirteenth-century hopes and fears of the future were expressed through the medium of prophetic writings, these texts mainly emphasized the influence of the emperor and other secular rulers on the future course of history, for better or for worse. However, the election of the hermit Peter of Murrone as Pope Celestine V in 1294 offered unprecedented hope -- especially among groups of Spiritual Franciscans -- that the papacy would become http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Traditio Fordham University Press

The Epistle of Merlin on the Popes: A New Source on the Late Medieval Notion of the Angel Pope

Traditio , Volume 65 (1) – Oct 3, 2010

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Fordham University Press
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Abstract

By KATELYN MESLER Lege, lege capitulum mei libelli veteris Merlini. -- Cola di Rienzo to Charles IV, 1350 "Two angels shall lead him," predicts The Prophecy of the True Emperor, offering signs by which the people will recognize a foreordained holy leader, sent to restore a divided, besieged, and weakened Christendom. Although this prophecy, which was translated from Greek into Latin in the second half of the thirteenth century, spoke only of an emperor, western Christians soon came to ignore or even change the word "emperor," preferring to read the text as a prophecy concerning the papacy.1 The peculiar reception of that prophecy cannot be understood apart from a crucial conceptual development that occurred in Italy during the years surrounding the turn of the fourteenth century. Whereas many thirteenth-century hopes and fears of the future were expressed through the medium of prophetic writings, these texts mainly emphasized the influence of the emperor and other secular rulers on the future course of history, for better or for worse. However, the election of the hermit Peter of Murrone as Pope Celestine V in 1294 offered unprecedented hope -- especially among groups of Spiritual Franciscans -- that the papacy would become

Journal

TraditioFordham University Press

Published: Oct 3, 2010

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