Ricasoli bookToday I was cataloguing a book, Yad Harutsim printed in Venice in 1595 (shelfmark: X W1283). On the title page verso I found two stamps. At first I thought that one of them could be a printer’s device. However, it turned out that it is in fact the bookstamp of Pandolfo Ricasoli Baroni (1581-1657), the canon of Florence Cathedral (the motto is ‘Pandulphi de Ricasolis baronibus cano. fior.’). The other bookstamp is of the Convent of Discalced Carmelites, Florence (the motto is ‘CARM. Discal. S. Pauli. Flor’) to which Ricasoli’s library was donated. So I looked into who Ricasoli was and found a fascinating and even by modern standards scandalous story – ONLY those of a strong disposition should read it!

“The canon Pandolfo Ricasoli, a man of great learning and apparent respectability, had gained some celebrity by his spiritual direction of convents, also as a preacher and in the instruction of youth; amongst other things he directed a school of younRicasoli stampg girls founded by one Faustina Mainardi a woman of low condition: they apparently confined themselves to pure spiritual instruction but employed religious confidence as a means of seduction, and to such an extent as to demoralize the whole society. This conduct as reported by a father confessor soon put the Holy Office into action, an in November 1641 the refectory of Santa Croce was turned into a court of justice to try the culprits. A scaffold hung with black drapery, as for the exposure of a corpse, and surrounded by the inquisitors, as seen in the midst of this vast hall: Cardinal Gian-Carlo de’Medici, the young princes of the blood, the priesthood, the nobility, every member of government, and other official persons filled the remaining space, so that the area of that enormous chamber teemed with anxious spectators. on this gloomy stage the prisoners dressed in garments painted with flames and devils, were seen kneeling at the feet of the Grand Inquisitor, who grim as Moloch, hearkened to a monk that with sepulchral voice and menacing aspect recited the process, accompanied by minute details of every obscene act which had been committed and acknowledged by the prisoners. Sentence was then pronounced, by which Faustina and Ricasoli were doomed to be walled up in a dungeon until they expired!”
(Henry Edward Napier, Florentine History from the earliest authentic records to the accession of Ferdinand the Third, grand duke of Tuscany [London: Edward Moxon, 1847], V, 498-499.)

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