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utorak, 26. travnja 2011.

Marko Antun de Dominis

Marko Antun de Dominis (1560 – 1624), the archbishop of Split, theologian and physicist was born in Rab in 1560, i.e. 450 years ago. He becomes a member of „The Society of Jesus“ in 1579; studies theology in Padua from 1587 to 1591, and teaches philosophy Brescia from 1592. He drops out from the „Society of Jesus“ in 1596; becomes bishop of Senj in 1597 and archbishop of Split in 1602. In conflict between Rome and Venice, in 1606, when Pope Paul V made a curse and interdicted the Venetian Republic, De Dominis sided with the Republic denying to the Pope the right to interfere with the affairs of the profane government.

In 1611 De Dominis publishes in Venice his first work in the field of physics, on the theory of lens and rainbow– De radiis visus et lucis in vitris perspectivis et iride. After finding out in 1612 that De Dominis reportedly was preparing a work against the Pope and the church policy, the roman court advised De Dominis to abandon the writing, which advice he did not take. However, in 1615 he takes the advice of Rome to give up the position of archbishop in Split. In 1616 he leaves Venice and travels to England. That same year in Heidelberg, where he makes a short stop during his journey, he publishes the announcement of the reasons for his departure under the title Marcus Antonius de Dominis Archiepiscopus Spalatensis suae profectiones consilium exponit, saying that his departure has nothing to do with any kind of ulterior motive of schism. This work, translated in several languages, circulated throughout Europe. It contained De Dominids’ "credo": "From the very first years of my being part of the clergy, I have nourished an inborn wish to see the unity of all Christ’s churches; I could not disinterestedly watch the separation between the East and West, the South and the North as concerns religious topics; it was with anxiety that I strived to find out about the reasons for so many divisions and schisms and to consider if some way could be found to unify all Christ’s churches into a truthful unity that existed a long time ago; I was burning with the desire to see it happen". On his winding journeys from Rome, Senj, Split, Venice, and London to Rome again, De Dominis remained faithful to his youth „credo“ in which he said that he was „burning“, as if he had suspected that in the end of the journey he will finally literally be burned as an old man - corpse.

De Dominis arrives to London on 16 December 1616, festively welcomed. His choice was the Anglican Church as the closest to Catholic Church. And in King James I he sees the ruler suitable for his idea, tolerant and ecclesiastical. Already in 1617 he publishes in London his work De Republica ecclesiastica libri X, - the first four books. De Dominis, a catholic bishop – he had always signed as „Archiepiscopus Spalatensis“or the Bishop of Split – who came to anglican, protestant country is a much discussed case throughout Europe. The fifth and the sixth book De Republica ecclesiastica he published in Frankfurtu am Mein in 1620, the seventh and the ninth in Hanau in 1622, while the eight and the tenth book remained unpublished. And what was the subject of his study and what did he recommend in these books? The key to realise the dream of his youth i.e. to achieve to unity of the churches, according to him, was a collegial organisation of the church hierarchy instead of a monarchic organisation, without the leadership and the priority of the Pope. In the same way in which the believers spread throughout the world form one Church, so do the bishops spread throughout the world form one bishop – a bishop’s college, an assembly of bishops. Only by the unity and oneness of the bishop college, according to De Dominis can the unity and the oneness of the Church be preserved and the Church Schism overcome. When in 1621 the Cardinal Alessandro Ludovisi, once a teacher and a friend of De Dominis is elected Pope, taking the name of Gregory XV, De Dominis thinks of returning to Rome.

At the beginning of the next year, in 1622 he writes to King James to allow him to leave England and go to Rome, where the Pope himself had invited him. De Dominis tries to persuade the king to unification with the Catholic Church. The response he gets is permanent exile from England. De Dominis returns to Rome as penitent, receives grace from the Pope and is re-established to all honours and pertaining income. At the beginning of 1623 De Dominis publishes a book in Rome – in which he explains his reasons for returning from England: Marcus Antonius de Dominis Archiepiscopus Spalatensis sui redditus ex Anglia consilium exponit. However, at the beginning of summer, the Pope Gregory XV dies. His successor is the young Pope Urban VIII. In 1624 De Dominis publishes his last work Euripus, like the first one, in physics, discussing the high and low tide. In that same year he also starts his work Retractationes – Reconsiderations, dedicated to Pope Urban VIII, wherein he repeatedly discusses the content of the work De Republica ecclesiastica and corrects the misconceptions. However, the inquisition opens investigation against De Dominis. He is detained in St. Angel’s Castle. De Dominis dies on 8 September 1624. However, the inquisition does not suspend but continues the process against him. He is declared guilty and on 21 December 1624 his dead body, the picture of him and his books are burned at the Roman’s gathering point Campo dei fiori, and his ashes are thrown into a nearby Tiber. In his hand written, unfinished work Retractationes… in Rempublicam Ecclesiasticam (Reconsiderations of the work De Republica ecclesiastica) De Dominis accepts the primacy of the Pope while – as it seems, orally advocating also the bishops’ college, but in unity with the Pope. The Second Vatican Council will later emphasise exactly the bishops’ college headed by the Pope as its special legacy. The Church would have achieved far more by publishing the finished work Retractationes – Reconsiderations, which would stand next to the work De Republica ecclesiastica as reconsiderations and new considerations, than it had achieved by condemning and burning Marko Antun de Dominis. De Dominis experienced the fate of the prophet. Pope John Paul II in the holly and jubilar year 2000 prayed and asked pardon for all the injustices that had been caused by some men of the Church. By the merit of Professor Antun Maletić, and the Academy member Darko Novaković and diligent fellows Petar Šoštarić and Tomislav Jazvić, there appeared in 2009, published by Lamaro in Split Reconsiderations– Retractationes as the final tome of the De Dominis’ masterwork De Republica ecclesiastica entitled: Retractationum M. Antonii de Dominis archiepiscopi Spalatensis Libri X in totidem ipsius De republica ecclesiastica libros, Spalati MMIX. Only together with Retractationes - Reconsiderations – which presents the last De Dominis’ attitude towards the work De Republica ecclesiastica, the latter becomes complete and constitutes the entire and finished De Dominis’ idea. In the year 2009, on the 450th anniversary of the birth of Marko Antun de Dominis from Rab - the Archbishop of Split, the Primate of Dalmatia and Croatia, physicist and theologian of reconciliation with the Christian West, the precursor of Ecumenism and the Second Vatican Council, the issuing of his masterwork De Republica ecclesiastica, in modern book print, together with the pertaining tome Retractationes – Reconsiderations, was finished in his homeland Croatia.

by Ivan Golub (c) Hrvatska pošta

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