Book Series Studies and Texts , vol. 192

The Church and the Languages of Italy before the Council of Trent

Franco Pierno (ed)

  • Pages: 319 p.
  • Size:225 x 285 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2015

  • ISBN: 978-0-88844-192-8
  • Hardback
  • Available


Franco Pierno is Associate Professor in Italian Linguistics and an associate of Trinity College in the University of Toronto. His main field of research is the relation between languages of Italy and the Church. He is the author of Postille spiritual et moral (Venise, 1517), an edition and linguistic analysis of the first Italian biblical commentary (2008), and the editor of Bernardino Ochino's Apologi (2013). In 2010, he was awarded a research grant by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada to study texts in the Italian language, published in Geneva during the years of Jean Calvin’s religious and political authority.


“Vernacular religious writings are typically in the 'minor' section of literary histories, despite their huge popularity in the first era of Italian literature. This volume considers the pre-Tridentine relationship between language and religion, before the Italian tongue was codified. These philologically and historically attentive essays, all of high quality, consider this literature (including eye-witness reportationes of preachers’ sermons, poetry on religious themes, translations, spiritual works, prayer manuals and songs sung by laymen in the various confraternities) not only as witnesses of spoken language, but as influences on a nascent koiné, distinct from the literary Tuscan of the great poets. Among topics considered are vernacular audience, lexical environment, stages of transmission, editing work of copyists, the sermon as a model of education, Italian place-names that derive from saints, and the role of religious texts in the famous dictionary put together by the Florentine Accademia della Crusca starting in the mid-1500s. The contributions are united in their concern for the language of vernacular religious texts as evidence of phenomena such as the culture of translation, the practice of popular devotion, and the urban scene of mendicant preaching.“

ALISON CORNISH ( University of Michigan)

“Il volume, corredato da un’ampia bibliografia e da un indice, si presenta nel suo complesso come un ottimo osservatorio della ricerca linguistica in rapporto alla storia religiosa del periodo che precede il concilio di trento. (Antonella Dejure, in Medieval Encounters, 22, 2016, p. 641)




In this volume, the most recognized specialists in the field and junior scholars have collectively produced a contribution that both deepens and ameliorates the initial attempts to rethink the crucial relationships between religion and language. While highlighting, as others studies have, the diversities of geolinguistics, of literary genres, and of registers that the ecclesiastical word could assume in medieval and early modern Italy, the essays in this volume additionally shed light on those constants and variables that, considered together, provide a systematic re-visioning of pre-Tridentine religious language.