Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/254

This page needs to be proofread.


THE SACK OF ROME

Prophetic consciousness spurred him on to renew the Church, in which from the beginning the gift of prophecy has always been (and will always be) made manifest. The fact that bold prophecies which he enunciated were verified strengthened his belief in his mission. Nev- ertheless he asked himself again, "Am I a prophet?" And he an- swered his question affirmatively he could not do otherwise. And then he preached unrestrainedly whatever his inner voice dictated, for it seemed as true to him as the Gospel itself. It was only as a cathe- dral preacher that he could fulfil his mission. "If I do not preach," he said, "I cannot live." The feeling of rhetorical power also carried him beyond the bounds he had set for himself. Yet even so impulse and effect, faith and utterance, survived in pure unison. Indeed loy- alty to his mission was the real cause of his tragedy. The hostile powers the Medici, Borgia, the Florence of the Arabbiati, his own Order, compelled him to act more and more wholeheartedly out of the necessity to "obey God." He was in no sense an innovator; but he did wish to renew what had become rotten in Florence, in Rome, and in the Church. His penitential sermons thundered and flashed like a great storm over the city of pleasure. Elegant humanists sniffed, irritated worldlings scoffed at him because of his ideals and his simplicity (simplicitas) . No doubt he shook the foundations of Florentine culture. But what constitutes the power of a prophet if not his fundamental repudiation of the message of comfort proclaimed by the children of this world lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and pride? The real pessimism was that of Renaissance man who could not live without art, not that of the gentle Friar who sought nothing less than a victory over the world. A tendency to assent to the state kept him from making the secular power subservient to the priestly power or from subordinating the monarchy to the Papacy; and yet he held that the legitimately elected Pope is superior to a Council. A conservative friend of hierarchical order, neither was he intrinsically an iconoclast. He poured out the lava of his soul in verse. Even his bitter lamentations over the decadence of the Church were given strophic form; and the shadow of his spirit rested also upon the crea- tions of the artists who fell under the ban Fra Bartolomeo, Raphael and Michaelangelo.

Savonarola pitted his hopes on an alliance with the King of France.


A