san_marco_firenze_statua_di_savonarola

Caterina de’ Ricci’s lauda in veneration of Savonaroloa was composed in gratitude for a cure from painful and debilitating illness. Born to a wealthy Florentine family in 1522, she took her vows at the convent of San Vincenzo in Prato in 1536 at the age of 14. By 1540 she had been suffering from an internal illness that had confined her to bed for over a year, and by the end of May the pain had prevented her from sleeping for a whole month. On 22 May, the vigil of Savonarola’s execution, some of his relics were brought to her, but they provided no relief. In the night she threw them onto the floor in exasperation, but regretting her action, she struggled from her bed, and, as she knelt to recover them, the friar appeared to her. He made the sign of the cross and pronounced the healing words sana facta es. She recovered at once. During the next two years the friar reportedly appeared to her in more than a dozen visions.

     Caterina commemorated her miraculous cure in a lauda. As a model she turned to Feo Belcari’s Da che tu m’hai Iddio il cor’ferito; she begins Da che tu m’ hai dimostro tanto amore. The heading specifically names Savonarola and his two Dominican companions. The refrain and first stanza provide a glimpse of the vivid imagery of Caterina’s vision of the friar, and his fiery glow:

– Patrick Macey, Bonfire Songs (Oxford University Press, 1998), 132.

 

Da che tu m’ hai dimostro tanto amore,
Servo di Cristo, con quel dolce sguardo
e con quel don che or m’ è doppio dardo,
sempre t’arò nel mezzo del mio core.

    Nelli tormenti e pene ero somersa,
e tu pietosamente subvenisti:
ogni letizia stava per me persa,
quando la tua pietade ad me apristi:
i’ ti chiamavo; e tu alfin venisti,
come piatoso padre ad una figlia
con quella faccia lucida e vermiglia,
che rutilava lucido splendore.

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    Since you have sown me such love,
Servant of Christ, with that sweet glance,
and with that gift which now is a double dart,
I will have you always in the centre of my heart.

    I was submerged in torment and pain
and you mercifully came to my aid:
all joy was lost to me,
when you revealed to me your mercy.
I called you, and you finally came,
like a tender father to a daughter,
with that shining vermillion face
that glowed with brilliant reddish light.