A Scurrilous Letter to Pope Paul III

A Scurrilous Letter to Pope Paul III. A Transcription and Translation of Ms 469 (f.101r – 129r) of the Vadianische Sammlung of the Kantonsbibliothek of St. Gallen. 

Updated layout and contents 19 November 2013

by Br. Paul Hanbridge OFM Cap

This study introduces a transcription and English translation of a ‘Letter’ in VS Ms 469. The document is titled: Epistola invectiva Bernhardj Occhinj in qua vita et res gestae Pauli tertij Pont. Max. describuntur. The study notes other versions of the letter located in Florence. It shows that one of these copied the VS469, and that the VS469 is the earliest of the four Mss and was made from an Italian exemplar. An apocryphal document, the ‘Letter’ has been studied briefly by Ochino scholars Karl Benrath and Bendetto Nicolini, though without reference to this particular Ms. The introduction considers alternative contemporary attributions to other authors, including a more proximate determination of the first publication date of the Letter. Mario da Mercato Saraceno, the first official Capuchin ‘chronicler,’ reported a letter Paul III received from Bernardino Ochino in September 1542. Cesare Cantù and the Capuchin historian Melchiorre da Pobladura (Raffaele Turrado Riesco) after him, and quite possibly the first generations of Capuchins, identified the1542 letter with the one in transcribed in these Mss. The author shows this identification to be untenable. The transcription of VS469 is followed by an annotated English translation. Variations between the Mss are footnoted in the translation. 


For this study it was necessary to locate and transcribe the relevant manuscripts, as well as Karl Benrath's published transcription in “Lettera a Paolo III, documento sconosciuto del secolo xvi” in Rivista Cristiana 2(1874) 257-272, 289-302. A synoptic view of the transcriptions permits a comparison of Benrath's transcription and mine. The synoptic also identifies quickly some of the variations in the content of the Mss.

This updated file includes both the study and the synoptic presentation of the Mss. Download the file here. (2.4 Mb)

You can still download just the study and translation here (789 kb)

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