Group Therapy for Venetian Adolescents? Giannantonio Bernardi’s “Prudence, a didactic prolusion” (Venice, 1709) and Jesuit Moral Counselling in Verse

Yasmin Haskell

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Abstract

While Jesuits composed more Latin didactic poetry than any other order or profession in the early modern period, they—perhaps surprisingly—rarely chose moral, political, or spiritual subjects for versification in this genre. One of the few exceptions to the rule is Prudentia, prolusio didascalica (Prudence, a didactic prolusion) by the Paduan-born Jesuit Giannantonio Bernardi (1670–1743), first published in Venice in 1709. Bernardi seems to have spent his whole life as a teacher, preacher, and confessor in northern Italy, apart from a stint accompanying his penitent, the Venetian envoy and future Doge, Carlo Ruzzini, to Constantinople. This paper sets Bernardi’s didactic poem in the context of some other Jesuit didactic poems of moral or spiritual counsel, especially Pierre Mambrun’s Psychourgicon: De cultura animi (La Flèche: ex officina Gervasii Laboe, 1661), as well as a selection of his other moral writings. It finds the Jesuit dimension to Bernardi’s poem more in its literary and institutional contexts and paratexts than in the bare philosophical doctrine it relays.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-208
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Jesuit Studies
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2017

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