Ferrariensis (Francesco Silvestri)
FERRARIENSIS (FRANCESCO SILVESTRI)
Theologian; b. Ferrara, c. 1474, d. Rennes, France, Sept. 19, 1528. He joined the Dominican order at the age of 14 in the priory of St. Mary of the Angels, Ferrara. He was outstanding in studies. Besides being famous for learning in theology and philosophy, he was also well versed in literature and music. Ferrariensis taught philosophy and theology in various Dominican houses of study and from 1507 to 1508 was master of students at Bologna. He became a master of sacred theology in 1515. He held priorships at Ferrara and Bologna. From 1518 to 1520 Ferrariensis was the vicar-general of the congregation of Lombardy. In 1520 he was appointed regent of the Dominican studium at Bologna. Clement VII appointed him vicar-general of the entire order in 1524, and in June 1525 he was elected master general. As general, he visited the order's provinces in Italy, France, and the Low Countries, zealously seeking to restore primitive fervor and discipline. It is thought that these travels hastened his premature death.
The principal work of Ferrariensis is his monumental commentary on the Summa contra gentiles of St. thomas aquinas. This was written before 1516 and first published at Paris in 1552. Leo XIII, in the preface of the Leonine edition of the Summa contra gentiles, describes this commentary as a "rich and illustrious stream through which the doctrine of Saint Thomas flows." Ferrariensis illustrates, defends, and approves the Thomistic doctrine, following the form and substance of Aquinas admirably. Like the Summa contra gentiles itself, the commentary is brief in the treatment of each question. Ferrariensis is the great commentator on the Summa contra gentiles as Cajetan is on the Summa Theologiae of Aquinas. So true is this that in the official Leonine editions of St. Thomas Aquinas, the commentaries of Ferrariensis are annexed to each chapter of the Summa contra gentiles, as are Cajetan's to the Summa Theologiae.
Among the other works of Ferrariensis are his Annotations on the eight Books of the Physics of Aristotle and Saint Thomas, and the Commentary on the three Books De Anima of Aristotle and Saint Thomas. His Annotations on the Posterior Analytics of Aristotle and Saint Thomas are also noteworthy. He also wrote an apologetical work Apologia de convenientia institutorum Romanae ecclesiae cum evangelica libertate, in which he defended the liberty guiding and guarding the Church against the attacks of Luther. Other writings included works on Blessed Hosanna of Mantua, OP, a Dominican mystic for whom he was the spiritual director; encyclical letters to his order while he was master general; and a collection of prayers.
Ferrariensis arrived on the scholarly scene at the end of the first antischolastic period. He is most important for making the thought of Aquinas available at a critical moment in the European history of thought. humanism was current at the time, and the understanding of St. Thomas helped the Church immeasurably. He was also present for the great arguments with Luther.
In his own right, Ferrariensis was also a remarkable metaphysician. He was an admirer of cajetan and emulated him as a philosopher and theologian. Yet he did not hesitate to disagree with Cajetan on important points, such as original justice, the immortality of the soul, fideism, abstraction, analogy, and the principle of individuation, among many things. He wrote a commentary on the Prima Pars of the Summa Theologiae but destroyed it upon seeing the superior work of Cajetan. Curiously, Cajetan, upon seeing the work of Ferrariensis on the Summa contra gentiles, destroyed a commentary he was preparing upon the same work and insisted that the work of Ferrariensis be published.
Bibliography: m. m. gorce, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (Paris 1903–50) 14.2:2085–87. j. quÉtif and j. Échard, Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum (New York 1959) 2.1:59–60. c. giacon, La seconda scolastica, 2 v. (Milan 1944–46) 1:37–162.
[e. m. rogers]