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On the part of Fra Malatesta, a Dominican:
“I, Fra Malatesta, Sacristan major of Rimini, of the Dominican order of S. Marco of Florence, in confirmation of the truth of the propositions, already for a long period preached by the Rev. Pad. Fra Girolamo Savonarola of Ferrara, the present Vicar-general of the said congregation, and in vindication of his innocence, offer myself, and undertake to enter into the fire with any brother whatsoever of the Franciscan order, or any other person who has offered, or will offer himself to undergo the ordeal, in corroboration of his opposition to those conclusions and propositions, confiding, without any doubt whatsoever, in the certainty of entering and of coming out of the fire unhurt, not from any merits of my own, but solely through the power and grace of God; in faith of which I sign this paper, &c. &c. &c. this second of April, 1498.”
On the part of Fra Roberto de Bernardo Salviati, a Dominican :
“I, Fra Roberto de Bernardo Salviati, of the Dominican order, offer myself for the ordeal, and undertake,” & ut supra...
On the part of Fra Girolamo Savonarola:
“I, Fra Girolamo, unworthy vicar of the congregation of S. Marco of the Dominican order, accept all the proposals of those brethren, on the part of the communities of S. Marco and of S. Domingo of Fiesole, and promise to give two, or four, or ten, or as many of the brethren) as shall be wanting for this work, to go into the fire, in testimony of the truth of that which I preach, and I put my trust in the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and in his Gospel, that each and every one of them shall come out unhurt, that is to say without any bodily injury; and in the event of there being any doubt of this result, I will not accuse my opponents of homicide, non lo direi per esser homicida ; and in testimony of the same, I have signed this document with my hand." There is no date to this compact.
Reply of Fra Girolamo Savonarola of Ferrara, of the Dominican order, to certain objections raised, to the experiment of the ordeal by fire, in confirmation of the truths preached by him :
“I will answer, briefly, on account of the want of time which there now is, to some objections addressed to us, concerning the experiment proposed to us, to prove the truth of things taught by us. And first as to not having accepted the proposal of going myself into the fire with a preacher of Santa Croce, of the Franciscan order : I answer, that I have only acted as I have done, that I may have no contention with him ; for if he has proposed in public to go into the fire, notwithstanding that he says he expects to be burned, to prove that the excommunication launched against me is valid, I have no necessity of proving by the fire that such an excommunication is null, conscious as I am of having already proved this to be the case, with such arguments as remain unrefuted, either here or at Rome.
“ And thus it was, therefore, he did not originally propose to try the experiment with me, but generally with any one who was opposed to him in the matter in dispute.
“ It is true that subsequently he offered an excuse for not wishing to have to do with any one in this matter, except with me, and chiefly because going into the fire with another brother, would not be of that utility to the church that he thought such a work required, especially when the hand of God was in it.
“ Nevertheless I offered myself, and offer myself again to make this trial in my own person, whenever the adversaries of this our doctrine, and principally those of Rome and their adherents here, desire to commit their cause to this Friar, or to any other; and I confide in our Saviour Jesus Christ, having no doubt whatever that I shall pass through the fire, as Isdrac, Mesach, and Abdenego passed through the fiery furnace, not by my merits or power, but by the power of God, who is pleased to confirm his truth, and to manifest his glory even in this world.
“ But truly I am astonished at those objections that are raised, while all my brethren collectively, who are about three hundred, and many other devout persons, have voluntarily proposed to make this trial, many in writing, whose signatures to similar undertakings are in my possession.
“Many citizens, likewise some religious persons of other
orders, and several secular persons, including even women and children, have made similar proposals.
“This morning, even of the 1st of April, thousands of persons who were present at our sermon in S. Marco did so with the greatest fervour, each crying out, Ecco mi! Ecco mi!' Behold me ready to go into the fire for thy glory, Oh Lord !
“If one of these under my direction, and in obedience to me, as there are many most willing to offer themselves, should perish in the fire, who would not perceive that all this work of God's doing in this mission) would go to ruin with me, and that I could no longer show my face anywhere?”...
(Here follow some sentences exceedingly confused, and some quite unintelligible.)
He justifies the opinion on which Fra Domingo had acted in selecting a particular brother for the trial. “ He was equally impressed with us," continues Fra Girolamo, “as to the idea that none should go into the fire, but those who are chosen by God, though many might offer themselves.
“Hence the charge of cruelty cannot reasonably be brought against us, nor can we justly be called homicidal, notwithstanding our adversaries, who have publicly subscribed the agreement, proclaim their belief that they have to perish in this fire: conscious as we are that we have not proposed this experiment and ordeal, but they themselves, who have done so. Loro sono quelli che ce l'hanno messo inanzi.
“Still we are constant in our purpose to accept it, in order that His holy truth shall not fail in the world: che la sua santa verità non vade per terra. And therefore we are not cruel and homicidal, but they are so (who have made the proposal).
“But much do I yet marvel, and all people wonder, that those, who if they have truth on their side, as they say they have, yet in so large an order as theirs cannot find any one in reality who will confide in God, to be enabled to enter the fire, and to come out of it unhurt : while we can find not one, but hundreds thus disposed. And when others say that although our adversary do not consent to enter into the fire, we alone ought to make
the experiment in confirmation of the truth, or choose some other mode of ordeal.
“ I say to this we have already replied, that it is manifest we do not require to establish truths by a miracle which we have proved by argument-namely, that the excommunication is null, for this would be to tempt God, but if our adversaries say my arguments are sophistical, we know not what to reply to them; they require a miracle against us, and leave all argument with us.
“And if they say that the things announced by us in the way of prophecy, le cose da noi per modo de Profetie annunciate, require, in order to their being credited, that I prove them with miracles ; I answer, that I do not force men to believe them more than may seem good to them to believe. But, on the other hand, if I exhort them to live well, and as Christians ought to do, (and worldly men hearken to my exhortation,) this alone would be a sufficient evidence of a miraculous influence to believe the things we assert, and all other truths which proceed from God. And although we have proposed already to prove the great things that are yet to be manifested, and that we assert to be imminent, sotto la chiavetti, with supernatural manifestations, it is only our intention by this proposal to prove the great things that remain to be manifested, and that we assert will be manifested as signs of the nullity of this excommunication : it will not be in a time appointed by us, when this will take place. But God will not be wanting to his promises, because God is faithful in all his words, who is blessed and glorious in all ages.
“ The standard-bearer of justice, and the citizens of Florence, coming to a knowledge of the writings and proposals of the Franciscans, and seeing the people much excited by this affair, brought the matter before the council, and with their consent it was decreed to have the ordeal carried into effect, and a place assigned for it. They appointed for that purpose, that part of the great square in front of the palace of the Signory, and fixed
* Diarium Burchardi, ab. p. 15, ad p. 52.
on the following Saturday, the 7th of the present month of April, 1498. Two great pulpits, one for the lords and magnates of the city, Dominis et Principalibus, the others for the parties at issue, for arranging matters and settling disputes as to the method of conducting the ordeal, and mode of preparing the great fire, which, with the consent of the friars of both orders, had to be determined on. The ordeal was to be undergone after these arrangements had been carried into effect at the abovementioned place on the appointed day, at the hour of terceshora tertiarum.
“On the appointed day, the 7th of April, before the hour fixed on, Fra Francis Suocus, of the Franciscan order, with one brother, came to the square. He ascended the rostrum that had been erected near the pile for his order. He sat down there, equally (with his companion) prepared to submit to the will of providence--expectans Dominum.
“Then, at the appointed hour, came in procession to the square, with the crucifix and the blessed sacrament, Fra Domenico de Pescia, of the Dominican order, and Fra Girolamo Savonarola of Ferrara, accompanied by a great multitude of people. The Dominicans ascended the place prepared for them.
“Then the lords of the council, D. D. Florentini, came down from the palace and ascended their rostrum. When they were seated, the Franciscan friar Francis, to the above-mentioned lords, made a short discourse, in which he said he was there to make the experiment of the ordeal, and in the event of his perishing in the fire, Fra Domenico de Pescia should be considered free from blame, and as triumphant in this cause, unless he likewise should perish in the fire; on the other hand, if it did not hurt him (Fra Francisco), he then should be considered the victor, otherwise not. The lords of the council having consulted, promised the friars what they desired should be done. And because amongst some there was a suspicion that the said friars would make the experiment, or either of them, by the aid of some conjuration or incantation concealed about their habits, or other parts of their attire, which would preserve them from the fire,