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Ricci, Scipione de'


Bishop of Pistoia; b. Florence, Italy, Jan. 9, 1741; d. Rignana, near Florence, Dec. 27, 1809. During his studies at the Roman College he became acquainted with persons of Jansenist tendencies. As a student later at the University of Pisa he came under the influences of the enlightenment, the gallicanism of the French appellants, and rigid augustinianism. After ordination (1766) he returned to florence and frequented the company of men interested in religious studies but opposed to the Roman Curia. As vicar-general of the Archdiocese of Florence (177580) he did not hide his sympathies, similar to those of Count Dupac de Bellegarde, a French abbot and an adherent of the schism of utrecht; of Giovanni Lami, a disciple of Freemasonry and the Enlightenment; and of Pietro Tamburini, professor of theology at Pavia; and other promoters of jansenism in Italy. Because of his friendship with Leopold I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ricci became bishop of Pistoia, then united with the See of Prato (1780). Heeding the advice of French appellants and the schismatic bishops of Utrecht, he introduced into his diocese radical changes in ecclesiastical discipline, studies, administration, and liturgy. He also caused writings of Italian and foreign Jansenists to be printed and widely diffused. He condensed in 57 propositions the ecclesiastical changes that found expression in the Synod of pistoia (1786). At the ensuing national assembly of the bishops of the Grand Duchy held in Florence (1787), Ricci sought to create a schismatic church, but the bishops disavowed the decrees of Pistoia. Popular reaction against these innovations caused Ricci to flee and then to resign his diocese (1791).

After Pius VI condemned the Synod of Pistoia in the apostolic constitution auctorem fidei (1794), Ricci was evasive but finally submitted "purely and simply." His submission to Pius VII in 1805 he considered "a grammatical sacrifice." He was a friend of the French constitutional priests gregoire, Mouton, and Clement; but this did not prevent his leading an irreproachable and pious private religious life. During his final years, spent in confinement in Rignana, he composed his memoirs, which testify to his ambivalent personality. Although he lacked a solid theological training and was somewhat mediocre culturally, he was animated by grandiose reform aspirations. His prestige was due to his episcopal dignity and to his friendship with Leopold, who desired social reforms and changes favorable to his absolutist aims. Ricci was influenced by Jansenism, Gallicanism, febronian ism, and josephism. His outlook revealed also the anticurial spirit of sarpi, the ardor of savonarola, and the zeal for reforming religion common in 18th-century Italy and found in men such as muratori and Lambertini (Benedict XIV). Aspirations for modernization, hagiographical and liturgical revisions, ecclesiastical and cultural reforms, and desires to purify even legitimate forms of piety found in Ricci a heretical and schismatic deviation and a lack of discipline that rendered precarious such innovations as translations of the Missal and prayers, new norms for a just distribution of ecclesiastical goods and honors, and changes in clerical education and in catechetical instruction.

Bibliography: Memorie di S. de' Ricci vescovo di Pistoia e Prato scritte da lui medesimo e pubblicate con documenti, ed. a. gelli, 2 v. (Florence 1865). n. rodolico. Gli amici e i tempi di S. de' R. (Florence 1920). b. matteucci, S. de' R.: Saggio storico teologico sul giansenismo italiano (Brescia 1940), with full bibliog. i. carreyre, "Synode de Pistoie," Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables Générales 1951) 12.2:21342230. l. pastor, The History of the Popes From the Close of the Middle Ages, 40 v. (London-St. Louis 193861): v.1, 6th ed.; v.2, 7th ed.; v.36, 5th ed.; v.78, 1112, 3d ed.; v.910, 4th ed.; v.1340, from 1st German ed. Geschichte der Päpste seit dem Ausgang des Mittelalters, 16 v. in 21. (Freiburg 18851933; repr. 1955) v. 39. l. willaert, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freisburg 195765) 8:524525.

[b. matteucci]

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