views updated May 23 2018


Archbishop, canonist, and theologian; b. central Italy, probably near Assisi, first half of the twelfth century; d. before 1192. Possibly he studied at Bologna, where certainly he taught after 1150. Sometime before 1179, when he gave the opening address at the Third Lateran Council, he became bishop of Assisi; between 1180 and 1186, at the instance of Peter II de Insulis, Abbot of Monte Cassino, he was translated to the archbishopric of Sorrento.

Writings. A man of vast cultural formation, Rufinus has left a number of writings: (1) Summa Decretorum, completed in 1160 [ed. H. Singer, Die Summa decretorum des Magister Rufinus (Paderborn 1902), with a valuable introduction]. (2) De bono pacis, written at the request of Abbot Peter between 1174 and 1180 (with a second recension between June 1180 and 1186) from rough notes ("sparsim vulgoque") compiled earlier for Bishop Bernard of Sora [printed by B. Pez, Biblioteca ascetica antiquo-nova 9 (Ratisbon 1726) 1110, whence Patrologia Latina, 217 v. (Paris 187890) 150: 15931638; both Pez and Migne, however, assigned the work to the late eleventeenth century]. (3) Sermons, including the discourse at the Third Lateran Council, discovered (Ambrosiana, Milan, manuscript 30 sup.) and discussed by G. Morin, "Le discours d'oeuverture du concile générale de Lateran (1179) et l'oeuvre littéraire de maître Rufin, évêque d'Assise," Atti della pontifica Accademia romana di archeologia 3d series, Memorie 2 (Rome 1928), 113133; discourse:116120. (4) Some glosses on the Decretum are discussed by J. Juncker, "Summen und Glossen," Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung f. Rechtsgeschichte Kan Abt. 14 (1925): 427462.

Technique and Teaching. The Summa Decretorum of Rufinus was the most influential Decretist writing until the appearance of the Summa super Decretis of huguc cio (11881190). This was in no small measure due to a novel technique. Where the immediate successors of gratian had been content to summarize or to provide an index of the Decretum, Rufinus introduced a systematic exposition of the text. Employing for the first time the analytical and exegetical techniques of the civil law schools, he glossed words and passages, noted cross-references, raised points not contained in the text, and, on occasion, disagreed with the master himself. Allied to these qualities was a wide range of sources outside the Decretum: the collectio Dionysio-Hadriana (dionysiana), burchard of worms, the De sacramentis of hugh of saint-victor, as well as Decretist writings such as the Summa of paucapalea (114048) and the Stroma (before 1148) of Roland Bandinelli (later alex ander iii). The result was an enormous stimulus to Summa literature and to the development of glossatorial techniques (see decretists). If Rufinus imitated the civilians, he had not, however, any great regard for civil law itself; the infiltration of civil law as such into ecclesiastical law came at a later stage of Decretist history. On the other hand, he belonged to the great canonico-theological tradition of Gratian and his school, although there were signs at the time that the marriage of law and theology was under some strain. Rufinus, in fact, is the first known author to use the Summa Sententiarum of peter lom bard (115558); and he proves to be a source himself for some theologians later on, such as simon of tournai.

One of the more doctrinal contributions of Rufinus was a distinction (ad Dist. 23) between auctoritas and administratio in any ecclesiastical office other than that of pope. The pope alone had auctoritas and administratio from his very order (potestas ordinis ), while all others had administratio by delegation or election. Applying the distinction cautiously to the emperor, Rufinus coined a formula auctoritas papae-administratio imperatoris, which became standard among moderate advocates of the emperor's submission to the pope. In time, however, other less temperate spirits stretched the formula to mean that the emperor as such had only an administrative capacity, that even in the temporal order he was only a sort of deputy of the pope.

In the De bono pacis, which is really an exposition of Augustine's De civitate Dei, Rufinus is completely in line with the doctrine of gelasius and Gratian of independent temporal and spiritual orders. Noting a possible ambiguity in Augustine's Jerusalem-Babylon division of Peace, Rufinus introduces a third Peace, that of Egypt (2:28). This is the spiritual society of the wicked, while Babylon (2:818) is the temporal order, where a peace rooted in justice (aequitas; a natural disposition) is the highest good, is common to Christian and Pagan, and is in harmony with the "Peace of the Church" (2:1931).

Bibliography: j. f. von schulte, Die Geschichte der Quellen und der Literatur des kanonischen Rechts, 3 v. in 4 pts. (Stuttgart 187580; repr. Graz 1956) 1:121130. s. kuttner, Repertorium der Kanonistik (Rome 1937) 131133, 178179. j. de ghellinck, Le Mouvement théologique du XII e siècle (2d ed. Bruges 1948) 537,538. a. m. stickler, "Imperator vicarius papae," Mitteilungen des Instituts für österreichische Geschichtsforschung 62 (1954): 165212. y. m. j. congar, "Maître Rufin et son De bono pacis," Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 41 (1957): 428444. l. ott, "Hat Magister Rufinus die Sentenzen des Petrus Lombardus benützt?" Scholastik 33 (1958): 234247. r. l. benson, "From Election to Consecration: Studies in the Constitutional Status of an Electus in the High Middle Ages," Dissertation Abstracts 19 (195859): 25852586; Dictionnaire de droit canonique, ed. r. naz, 7 v. (Paris 193565) 7:779784.

[l. e. boyle]


views updated May 11 2018


(fl. Italy, second half of thirteenth century)

botany, medicine.

All that is known of Rufinus is what can be gleaned from his only known work, Liber de virtutibus herharum. He was an Italian monk and priest of the second half of the thirteenth century who, having studied astronomy among the liberal arts at Naples and Bologna, turned to examine “the lower realm” of herbs: the De virtutibus herbarum, finished after 1287, apparently was composed late in his career. This work lists nearly a thousand medicinal materials, mostly vegetable simples, presenting for each a brief summary of its description by earlier authorities (most commonly Macer Floridus, Dioscorides, and the early medieval herbal called Circa instans). Fully one-fifth of the text. however, consists of Rufinus’ own contributions, which are outstanding for including a great many careful botanical descriptions of a detail quite unknown to earlier medical writers. He regularly describes the stem, flower, and leaves of a plant under consideration and contrasts it with similar plants. Much of his knowledge comes from direct acquaintance with these plants or from the lore of the practicing herbalists of Naples, Bologna, and Genoa: Rufinus often supplies vernacular names as well as Latin synonyms for the plants he discusses.

For all its interest in descriptive botany, Rufinus’ book was intended as an aid to medical practice and is much closer in spirit to the Salernitan sources on which he drew than to the contemporary Scholastic botany of Albertus Magnus—to which, indeed, it makes no reference whatsoever. Perhaps because it lay outside the direction taken by much of medicine in the later Middle Ages, it seems to have been very little used: only Benedetto Rinio, in the early fifteenth century, has been shown to have had a knowledge of it.


The Liber de virtutibus herbarum is known in only one MS, Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Fondo Ashburnham 116 (189–121), of 118 fols. It has been edited, with an introduction, by Lynn Thorndike, as The Herbal of Rufinus (Chicago, 1946). Thorndike’s introduction is in part an expansion and correction of his earlier article “Rufinus: A Forgotten Botanist of the Thirteenth Century,” in Isis, 18 (1932), 63–76, but it does not retain the article’s translations into English of sample passages from Rufinus’ text.

Michael McVaugh