Atto of Vercelli

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Bishop, theologian, and canonist; b. c. 885; d. Dec. 31, 961. He is called also Atto II, to distinguish him from an earlier bishop of Vercelli of the same name who lived about the middle of the 8th century. Born of a distinguished Lombard family, the son of the Viscount Aldegarius, he became a figure of outstanding importance in the Church and state of his day. Details of his education are not known, but it must have been considerable, for his works indicate a knowledge of Greek. The year 924 was the turning point in his career; the Hungarians, during their incursion into Italy, ravaged the city of Pavia on March 12, and Ragembert, Bishop of Vercelli, died in the attack. Atto was made his successor, and his office brought him into association with the leading figures of his day: Hugh of Provence, king of Italy (d. 947), whose grand chancellor he became; lothair ii (d. 950), Hugh's son, whom he served in a like capacity; and the Margrave Berengar II (d. 966). Yet his activities did not prevent him from devoting considerable time to writing. The three books of his De pressuris ecclesiasticis (c. 940) are the earliest of his major works and deal with such subjects as the refutation of charges against the clergy, the filling of clerical posts (especially bishoprics), and the unjust seizure of Church property by the laity after the death of the bishop. His Commentary on the Epistles of Paul considered the question of why the Roman Epistles stand first. There are also Letters and Sermons, as well as a work titled Canones statutaque Vercellensis ecclesiae, which is a recapitulation of past ecclesiastical legislation in the diocese and includes the false decretals. His somewhat remarkable Polipticum (Polypticum, Perpendiculum ), an abridgment of moral philosophy [ed. G. Goetz, Abhandlungen der Sächischen Akademie (Gesellschaft, to 1920) der Wissenschaften 1922, 37.2], seems to have been completed in the last months of Atto's life and to have been sent to a friend, who in turn composed a foreword to the work, using the same distinctive Latinity that Atto had employed. Atto himself stands as a valuable index to his age and as a person of notable endowments and achievements.

Bibliography: Works . Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne, 217 v., indexes 4 v. (Paris 187890) 134:9916. c. buronzo del signore, ed., 2 v. (Vercelli 1768). Literature . j. schultz, Atto von Vercelli (Göttingen 1885). e. pasteris, Attone di Vercelli ossiail più grande vescovo e scrittore italiano del secolo X (Milan 1925). p. pirri, "Attone di Vercelli," La civiltà cattolica 1 (1927) 2742. a. fliche, La Réforme grégorienne, v.1 (Paris 1924) 6174. m. manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters, 3 v. (Munich 191131) 2:2734. w. wattenbach, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter. Deutsche Kaiserzeit, ed. r. holtzmann, v.1.14 (3d ed. Tübingen 1948) 1.2:317. p. mikat, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 1:1019.

[w. c. korfmacher]