04 June 2016

Antonio Correr, Cardinal of Bologna

Antonio Correr, Cardinal of Bologna, was a man of great worth. To quote the words of Vespasiano da Bisticci,

"Messer Antonio, of the House of Correr, a nobleman, and nephew of Pope Gregory XII., led a holy life, and, like Pope Eugenius, in his youth entered a religious Order in an island of Venice called San Giorgio in Alga. He was led to take this step by the boundless zeal for the Christian Faith and for his own salvation, which filled his soul. 
After he had spent many years in the Order, it came to pass that his uncle was elected Pope (1406) and determined to make him a Cardinal, although he would not leave his monastery for anything in the world. At last, being constrained by the Pope, he consented on one condition : this was that Messer Gabriel (Condulmaro), who afterwards became Pope Eugenius, should also receive the purple, and the Pope agreed that it should be so for his sake. After both had become Cardinals, Messer Antonio and all who belonged to his household lived most virtuously and were a pattern to others. 
The Cardinal held, as benefices, two abbeys, one in Padua and the other in Verona. In both of these he introduced the Observance of the rule and gave a part of the revenues to the monks, reserving to himself only what was needed for his support. He also provided that, after his death, both should belong to the religious, free from all charges. He lived in piety and holiness to the age of eighty, and when Pope Eugenius returned from Florence to Rome, resolved to leave the Court and retire to his Abbey at Padua. After he had dwelt there for some time, he undertook to set his affairs in order. Year by year he had kept an account of the sums which he drew from his benefices. 
One day he summoned to his dwelling the Procurators of the two monasteries and caused all his property to be gathered together in a great hall; he had an inventory taken of his plate, books, household furniture, and even of his clothes, and every separate article valued. After this had been done he sent for his account books, in which the revenues received from his benefices were entered, and, by his command, a list of the objects before him, with their valuation, was written at the opposite side of the page. He then told one of the Procurators that he might take the books and half of the silver plate and of the other objects, as he had arranged them. He addressed the like request to the other Procurator, with the words : Take and carry away what belongs to you. In this manner, before leaving the apartment, he disposed of all his goods, and kept nothing but a chalice, a vestment, and four silver vessels. 
After all this was finished, he said to the Fathers of the two monasteries: I have had various goods delivered to you whose value amounts to so much; so much have I drawn from the benefices bestowed upon me. If I had more, I would give it to you ; have patience with me and pray to God for me. The monks were above measure astonished at the Cardinal s action, and thanked him most warmly. But he rose from his seat and said : ‘Thanks be to God for that which He has ordered.’ 
Lords and Prelates may learn from this Cardinal that it is better for a man himself to do what is to be done than to entrust it to his heirs. He lived four months after this distribution of his property. He paid his servants their wages every month and gave them clothing twice a year. He would not be a burden to anyone, and left bequests to his servants and for pious purposes as his conscience suggested. He ended his days like a Saint. I learned all this from his nephew, Messer Gregorio, who was present at the division of his property and deserves all credit. Such Prelates of God s Church are worthy of everlasting remembrance." 

[Another author writes:] “It was of inestimable importance to the Church to have again men of such piety, learning, and activity, employed in the Supreme Council of the Pope men who were convinced that they were bound by their own example to quash the accusations made against the clergy, and to meet the ever-increasing pressure of the new intellectual culture, by themselves taking part in the restoration of classical literature and of the sciences. "

[Excerpted from Ludwig von Pastor, The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages, Vol. 1, pp. 269-71.  The passage above occurs in the midst of Pastor's survey of the cardinalate under Martin V.]