APT Basilicata

APT Basilicata

Basilicata turistica

De Luca Giovan Battista

a cura di Giovanni Caserta

Giovan Battista De Luca was a great personality inside the Neapolitan and Roman Counter-reformation. He interpreted it in all its various expectations. He supported the Church; but at the same time he fought for its moral renovation and for the accomplishment of the evangelic message. Probably this was due to his long, civil, human and cultural experience as lawyer, first in Naples and then in Rome.

He was born in Venosa in 1614. He graduated utroque iure in Naples in 1635. In Naples he started working as lawyer. In 1645 he moved to Rome, where he established profitable connections with the highest politic and clerical authorities of the town, included the Pope. In 1656 to survive the raging pestilence, which was spreading in all Europe, he lived closed in his study. In the loneliness of his retreat, he started writing the Theatrum veritatis et iustitiae (“Mirror of truth and justice”), in 15 books, which is his main work. In those years he entered the meeting place of Queen Cristina from Sweden. In 1675 he was ordained, he was 61 years old, by now. In 1681 he was designated cardinal by Pope Innocenzo XI. He died the 5th February 1683.

Those years were very difficult for the Church, since it was attacked by in several parts by protestants “heresys”. Giovan Battista De Luca felt the battle should pass through moral Reformation and, if necessary, through the doctrine reformation itself. He bravely fought against the advantages of the few, sometimes facing the Holy Inquisition’s opposition. He wanted to abolish the ecclesiastic immunities and punish their criminal abuses. He asked that to hold ecclesiastic posts, were called worthy persons apart from census or nobility. To cope with Church economic problems, he suggested to reduce the bureaucratic apparatus, because, in his opinion, it was too expensive.

To give a good example, he left all his money to the Church of Venosa, “beloved motherland”, but the usufruct for the sisters. He left a bequest of money to Saint Benedetto Convent of his town, where lived 30 nuns and boarders. He founded, always in Venosa, a found for weddings, in order to help poor girls and indigent students, who wanted to continue their studies at the University of Naples. Finally he founded a wheat Found, in order “to help every year countrymen and other people”.

But his interests extended to society in a wide sense. He was educated on books and following Orazio’s thought, who aimed st simplicity, at moderation and at aequitas and who loved Venosa and his people. Giovan Battista De Luca, big lawyer of Rome and Naples’ Courts, became “popular doctor” as he put his wisdom at poor people disposal, to protect their rights. For this purpose he wished laws written in vernacular so that “everyone, although idiot, but with some light of reason, could understand what law says in his own interest”. Like Manzoni, he stated that clear laws would have forbidden the “cunning-lawyers”, so common in Naples as in Rome, to cheat and oppress. So he suggested an “Italian and not Tuscanian” vernacular, without refusing foreign words or regional words of noble usage, in order to have a “the cleanest language of all, providing that this cleanness doesn’t compromise its clarity and easiness”. For these ideas he took sides against the Bran Academy and also against the whole learned literary tradition, just like Ascanio Persio had done before him.

These were daring positions, which confirmed how, in the seventeenth century, for the first time after Dante, the Italian culture, also in the South, addressed to common people with a new oral language, even in dialect (see Lo cunto de li cunti by Giambattista Basile), but also with drama language by Serafino from Salandra or with new music by Don Gesualdo from Venosa, or with the new painting of the Stabile from Potenza and Ferri from Tricarico, who in their artistic wandering reached the most secluded villeages of the region and helped them in their cultural elevation.

Main works of Giovan Battista De Luca were Theatrum veritatis et iustitiae (1669-73), Il dottor volgare (1673), Supplementum ad theatrum veritatis et iustitiae (1677), Il cavaliere e la dama, ovvero discorsi nell’ozio tusculano autunnale dated 1675 (1675), Difesa della lingua italiana (1675)and Il giuoco dell’ombre (1681).

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