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"OH WATERS, TEEM WITH MEDICINE TO KEEP MY BODY SAFE FROM HARM, SO THAT I MAY LONG SEE THE SUN." - Rig Veda
"For Fra MicheleBerti of Calci (d. 1389) unjust persecution was not so clear-cut.He therefore had to earn the community’s goodwill, a feat he accomplished through his steadfast conviction and his comportment during the execution of his sentence. Michele Berti was a member of the Spiritual Franciscans, or fraticelli as they were called in Italy. This group had been declared heretical by Pope John XXII in 1317 for maintaining that the Franciscans should possess nothing, either individually or in common, and could only have de facto use of property. The bishop of Florence, Antonio Bindi, imprisoned Michele Berti for purportedly preaching that people should read the Gospels themselves to discover the truth, rather than listen to clerics.He was ultimately condemned to death as an unrepentant heretic.
The anonymous account of these events describes the friar’s walk through the streets of Florence to the site of his immolation and in so doing presents the process through which the community became convinced that Michele Berti was a saint.The chronicler, anticipating this conclusion, tells the reader that when Michele Berti ‘was striding along with his head bowed, saying the ofﬁce, he truly seemed like one of the martyrs’.
If the author was convinced of Michele’s holiness, the populace was not — at least not yet. As he was led to the place of execution the Florentines gathered in the streets and hung out of their windows, calling out to the condemned man. They shouted out to him that he did not want to die, trying to persuade him to tell the authorities whatever they wanted to hear in order to spare his life.
He rebuffed them, claiming that he wanted to die for Christ, and for the truth. The community tested him, calling out that he did not believe in God, that he had a devil on his back ‘pulling’ him,and that he should repent for his error. The friar responded that he did believe in God and the Virgin Mary and the holy Church,that God protected him against demons, and that, ‘on the contrary [what I believe] is the orthodox faith, in fact it is the truth to which every Christian is bound’.Michele Berti’s demeanour and resoluteness impressed the observers. The spatial progression to the site of his execution corresponded with a shift in public opinion. By the time he reached one of the gates of the city, instead of the jeers and questions he had received earlier, ‘one of the faithful began to call outto him, saying, ‘‘stand ﬁrm, martyr of Christ, for soon you will receive the crown [of martyrdom]’’ ’.When the ofﬁcials asked him one last time, ‘What is this thing for which you want to die?’the friar responded with the same sense of purpose he had shownthroughout his incarceration: ‘This is a truth that resides in me, to which I cannot bear witness (non se ne puo` dare testimonio) if I do not die’. As his body was set ablaze Florence ignited into an uproar."
"Following her success as an author, Dolly Freed grew up to become a NASA aerospace engineer. She aced the SATs with an education she received from the public library and put herself through college. She’s been an environmental educator, business owner, and college professor. She now lives in Texas with her husband and two children."