Renowned preacher; b. district dell' Oca, Siena (hence his surname), 1487; d. Slavkov, Moravia, c. 1564. Ochino entered the Observant Franciscans (c. 1504), and after broad studies, he rose to be provincial and finally vicar for the Cisalpine province of his order. Craving a yet stricter rule, he transferred in 1534 to the Capuchins, of whom he was vicar-general from 1538–42 (see franciscans, first order). As a Lenten preacher, the gaunt ascetic of resonant voice and terrifying directness was eagerly sought by competing towns and bishops. In 1536, while in Naples, he had become acquainted with Juan de valdÉs and his circle. Several of his later sermons were popularizations of the works of Valdés, and his understanding of the atonement was Valdesian. In 1539 he delivered at Venice a remarkable course of Prediche, showing a Protestant tendency in the doctrine of justification, all under the guise of opposing it.
Suspected and cited to Rome in 1542, Ochino was deterred from presenting himself on the advice of petermartyr vermigli at Florence. He escaped across the Alps, settling in Geneva, where he was cordially received by Calvin. He married a lady of Tusca who had once heard him as the great Capuchin preacher. From 1542 till 1545 he preached to the Italian congregation and wrote, publishing in 1544 his Apologhi, a collection of reminiscences and satirical anecdotes about popes, cardinals, priests, and friars. He served as minister of the Italian Protestant congregation at Augsburg (1545–47). When the city was occupied by the imperial forces, he escaped by way of Basel and Strassburg to find asylum in England (1547–53). Here he was made a prebendary of Canterbury and preached to the Italians in London, receiving a royal pension. Here also he composed his Dialogue of the injuste usurped primacie of the Bishop of Rome and the Labyrinth, the latter opposing predestination.
At the accession of Mary Tudor he became pastor of the Italian congregation at Zurich, where he published his Dialogo del Purgatorio, in which he upheld the view that the true purgatory is Jesus himself, purifying man of his sins. In his Syncerae et verae doctrinae de Coena Domini defensio he described the Lord's Supper in a Zwinglian fashion. His XXX Dialoghi, brought together in 1563, occasioned his banishment. His Protestant adversaries maintained that he was weak on the doctrine of the Trinity and that he had justified polygamy under color of a pretended refutation.
He found refuge in Poland under the protection of Prince Nicolas Radziwiłł and preached in Cracow until the edict of August 1564 banished all foreign dissidents. After losing, during his wanderings, three of his children, he found asylum in Slavkov with Niccolò Paruto, an exiled Venetian nobleman who espoused antitrinitarian Anabaptism. He died of the plague.
Bibliography: r. h. bainton, Bernardino Ochino (Florence 1940). b. nicolini, Il pensiero di Bernardino Ochino (Naples 1939). g. mÜller, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Tübingen 1957–65) 4:1555–56.
[g. h. williams]