Telesphorus of Cosenza

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Real or fictitious person, purported author of De causis, statu, cognitione ac fine praesentis schismatis et tribulationum futurarum, a book of prophecies concerning the Great Schism. It was composed between 1356 and 1365, with another writer's dedicatory epistle (1386) to Antonio Adornio, Doge of Genoa, then under French influence. The book claims to be written by a Telesphorus (Theophorus, Theolophorus) of Cosenza (in Calabria), a holy hermit priest; it recapitulates writings of Cyril of Constantinople, joachim of fiore (of whom Telesphorus is said to have written a life), and other seers. The book is a florilegium from popular medieval literature of the apocalyptic movement and is especially dependent on Joachim of Fiore and John of Roquetaillande. Without following a school, it shows the traits of this literature: ideal clerical poverty, salvation of Church and world by an ideal emperor and the Pastor (Papa) Angelicus. It predicts the schism's end in 1393; persecution by Frederick III; and election of the "Angelic Pastor," after which the clergy embraces evangelical poverty, the pope ends the German electors' power to choose the emperor and crowns Charles of France as emperor, and a crusade restores all men to Christ. The interpretation of events favors French nationalism. Most authors hold that Telesphorus is a pseudonym; E. Donckel and P. Paschini deny this, asserting that he was a Franciscan hermit who entered the order of hieronymites.

Bibliography: e. donckel, "Studien über die Prophezeiung des Fr. Telesforus von Cosenza," Archivum Franciscanum historicum 26 (1933) 29104, 282314, includes ed. of text. p. paschini, Enciclopaedia Italiana di scienzi, littere ed arti, 36 v. (Rome 192939; suppl. 1938) 33:437438. f. foberti, Gioacchino da Fiore e il Gioacchinismo antico e moderno (Padua 1942).

[a. condit]