April 6 – Girolamo Francesco Tornielli

April 3, 2023

Girolamo Francesco Tornielli

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Italian Jesuit, preacher and writer, b. at Cameri, 1 February, 1693, of a distinguished family from Novara; d. at Bologna, 6 April or 12 May, 1752. He entered the Society in 1710, and manifested oratorical powers; after teaching classics, he entered upon a career of preaching, which lasted for almost twenty years. He first spoke at Venice (1733), and then with increasing popularity at Rome, Milan, Florence, and Bologna. Many hailed him as Segneri’s successor. Tornielli, however, did not possess Segneri’s vehemence, impassioned logic, and directness. Brilliant, rather than solid, he lacked originality and depth; but he had imagination and dramatic feeling. For his pathos and easy, popular style he was surnamed the “Metastasio” of the Italian pulpit. To polished diction he added a refined and affecting delivery. Shocked by the licentious songs then common, Tornielli tried to remedy the evil by adapting sacred hymns to the popular airs. Many criticised him for having thus exposed the mysteries of religion to ridicule and contempt. A Jesuit, Sanchez de Luna, defended him in his “Riposta alla censura fatta alle canzonette marineresche per le festivita di Maria Santissima.” The Accademia della Crusca requested Tornielli to enter that body and offered to publish his works, but he modestly declined.

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Tornielli’s principal works are: “Sette canzonette in marineresca sopra le sette principale feste di Nostra Signora” (Milan, 1738); “Prediche quaresimali” (Milan, 1753, Bassano, 1820, with a preface by Noghera, Savona, 1889); “Panegirici e discorsi sacri” (Bassano, 1768). Sommervogel and Carrara doubt the authenticity of the “Businate,” a burlesque poem, written in Milanese dialect and sometimes attributed to Tornielli. There is a eulogy of the orator in the Piemontesi illustri,” III, p. 305.

CARRARA, Nuovo dizionario istorico (Bassano, 1796); BETTINELLI, Opere edite ed inedite, XXIII (Venice, 1801); Prediche scelte di Segneri, Tornielli ed alteri (Turin, 1824); DE ANGELIS in Biographie ancienne et moderne, XLVI (Paris, 1826); Scelta di prediche dei piu celebri oratori italiani (Rome, 1837); AUDIBIO, Lezioni di eloquenza sacra, II (Turin, 1859), 346-49; NAY, Brevi Cenni sulla vita, sull’ opere di Tornielli (Preface to Tornielli’s “La felicita del patrocinio del Governo de Gozzano” etc., (Turin, 1875); DE BACKER, Bibl. des ecrivains de la C. de J. ser., IV, 699; SOMMERVOGEL, Bibl. de la C. de J., VIII, 101-4.

John C. Reville (Catholic Encyclopedia)


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