Rome, Italy

Author: Fr. Nestor Cachuela Impelido, SDB
Title: La Residenzia dei Vescovi in Alcuni Scritti di Riformatori Pretridentini
Adviser: Fr. Mario Fois, SJ
Degree: Historia Ecclesiastica Licentia
Specialization: Ecclesiastical History
Year: 1996


The residence of bishops was already a key issue for the Church reform in the fifteenth century. There had been efforts, in fact, even before the Council of Trent (1545-1563), by reform-minded ecclesiastics to reform the episcopate through their pastoral writings. This paper writes about the attempts of pre-Tridentine bishop-reformers to correct the absenteeism of bishops from their dioceses and to give the reasons why they should reside in their dioceses.

The paper deals with reform of the Church during the renaissance period of its history. Its method being historical, the author examines the pastoral writings of two fifteenth century and four sixteenth century Church reformers: Lorenzo Giustiniani’s (1381-1456) De institutione et regimine prealatorum; Dionigi Certosino’s (1402-1471) De vita et regimine praesulum; Claudio di Seyssel’s (1450ca.-1520) Tractatus de triplici statu viatoris; Tomasso de Vio’s (1469-1534) Commentaria Cardinalis Caietani in Summam Theologicam, IIa-IIae, q.185, a.5; Gasparo Contarini’s (1483-1542) De officio viri boni ac probi episcopi; and Juan Bernal Diaz de Luco’s (1495-1556) Instruccion de Prelados. In these treatises, they expressed their reasons why bishops should diligently reside in their dioceses.

These pre-Tridentine reformers of the episcopate had given reasons why bishops should reside in their dioceses: because the bishop was “sacramentum” of Christ; because he was “vicarius Christi”; because it was “ius divinum”; because this was non-negotiable for the “cura animorum.

The reformed pastor of the Church was one who resided for the care of souls, convinced that he had been called for a permanent, full-time ministry. He was a convert from a man of temporal affairs into an authentic shepherd of souls.

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