I copy here for a record that I made around 2 November 1499. Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi [Sandro Botticelli], my brother, one of the good painters who have lived in our city up to now, narrated in my presence at home by the fire, around the third hour of the night [between eight and nine p.m.], how he had been discussing the case of Fra Girolamo [Savonarola] with Doffo Spini one day in his workshop. [Doffo was the leader of the Compagnacci (‘the Rude, Rowdy or Ugly Companions’), a member of the Eight, and one of the ‘examiners’ in the torture and trial of Savonarola.] Actually, Sandro asked him for the pure truth, because he knew that the said Doffo had been one of the interrogators in the affair, always present to examine Savonarola. So [Sandro] wanted [Doffo] to recount what sins they found in Fra Girolamo by which he merited to die such an ignominious death. And so, in his turn, Doffo responded, ‘Sandro, should I tell you the truth? We did not find any in him, neither mortal sins nor even venial ones.’ Sandro asked, ‘Why did you cause him to die so ignominiously?’ He replied, ‘It was not I, but rather [Bishop] Benozzo Federighi. And if this prophet and his companions had not been put to death, but had been sent back to San Marco [their sanctuary at the Dominican religious complex], the people would have destroyed us and cut us to pieces. The affair had gone so far that we decided that if we were to escape, they must die.’ And then other words were exchanged between the two of them which there is no need to record.

– Simone Filipepi, brother of Sandro Botticelli (the Renaissance Florentine painter and follower of the Dominican preacher Girolamo Savonarola: http://www.sandrobotticelli.net)

Fra Girolamo Savonarola was hanged and burned, along with two fellow colleagues, Fra Silvestro and Fra Domenico, on the 23rd of May, 1498.  The Church to this day is at odds as to whether he was truly a heretic or possibly a blessed prophet or saint.

“But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” (John 11:49-50)

 

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