Vida, Marco Girolamo

views updated


Italian humanist poet and Church reformer; b. Cremona c. 1485; d. Alba, Sept. 27, 1566. Of a noble though poor family, Vida received a classical education at Cremona and at Mantua, and studied philosophy, theology, and canon law in Rome, where he was ordained before 1510. Much of his earliest poetry has been lost. His poems on chess, Scacchia ludus, and the silkworm, De bombyce, won him the favor of Leo X, who commissioned him to write a great epic on the life of Christ. His interest in Vergil led him to compose Poeticorum libri tres (1527), which has had undue and unexpected influence in literary history; in fact he became known as the "Christian Vergil." The epic Christiad (1535), in six books, was a great success in its own time and long after. In 1533 Clement VII appointed Vida bishop of Alba in Lombardy, and there he devoted himself to religious, social, and political problems. Though forced to leave Alba by the alternating French and Spanish invaders, he nonetheless persevered in reform work. He took stern measures against Protestants and was sometimes overzealous in invoking the secular arm. He worked for the improvement of clerical standards, and urged this also on the popes and his fellow bishops. Vida participated in some sessions of the Council of Trent, but left at least once in protest of its inactivity (1545). In 1564 he was instrumental in organizing the synod of Milan under Abp. Charles Borromeo.

Vida was known throughout his long life for personal integrity and high ideals. His secular poetry remained extensively popular into the 19th century; the Christiad and the Hymns that he composed in the 1530s and 1540s influenced religious literature after Trent. His Constitutiones synodales (1562) were exemplary for Borromeo and others as paradigms of diocesan and clerical reform.

Bibliography: v. cicchitelli, Sulle opere poetiche di M. G. Vida (Naples 1904); Sulle opere in prosa (Naples 1909). m. di cesare, Vida's Christiad and Vergilian Epic (New York 1963). m. g. vida, Sedici lettere inedite, ed. f. novati (Milan 1898).

[m. a. di cesare]