Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz

Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz


(Madrid, 1602 - Vigevano 1682)

Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz was born in Madrid in 1606 to Lorenzo Caramuel, a Flemish aristocrat who moved to Spain at the court of Charles V and from a Bohemian mother, Caterine Frisse, of whom little Juan took the second surname deriving from his mother's native city; Lobkowitz precisely.
He proved to be a child prodigy from the earliest years of life and was initiated into mathematics and physical sciences from an early age, consolidating expectations also thanks to his tutors who followed him.
An example of his extraordinary nature was when, still as a child, he perfected his studies in the oriental language, given the origins of John of Heifron 1 all together with Latin and Greek.
This very intense "academic" immersion will be decisive for the scientific career. After the first decade of his life, he began to look with interest to the Benedictine order, probably driven by the deep faith practiced by his family. In fact, the Caramuel family, especially from the maternal side, have always distinguished themselves for the services rendered to the Holy See, so in 1621 at the age of 15 he arrived at the Santa Espina abbey of the Cistercian order, located in ancient Castile, where the first abbot was San Nivardo, brother of San Bernardo 2 .
After completing his novitiate in 1623, from here on he will tour the major theological centers of Spain and Europe, such as the one that was then in the city of Salamanca, increasing more and more his already conspicuous cultural baggage and becoming a man of culture and science. of absolute relevance.
At the age of 21, he received priestly ordination and in 1629 wrote his first work " Metametrica " in honor of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Juan Caramuel, thanks to his commitment and his preparation, managed to build a respectable reputation. Very soon he began to speak throughout the "Cistercian world", so much so that he soon earned important positions, including that of visiting the Cistercian cases in Holland, England and Scotland, making himself appreciated everywhere to the point of being appointed Grand Prior of the Order. di Calatrava 3 in a record age considering the standards and the die that is still necessary today, in some cases. The brilliant political-religious career recorded an important and continuous rise, always accompanied by his profound preparation in various fields so as to be literally disputed among the powerful of Europe: for example the archbishop of Mainz made him obtain a bishopric “In partibus” eager to have him as a collaborator; Emperor Ferdinand III appointed him Minister of State and Vicar General of Prague 4 . In this period, moreover, he made another important acquaintance, the bishop of Nardò Fabio Chigi, who would soon become Pope with the name of Alexander VII after taking the place of Innocent X, among other things not only successor but also Secretary of State during his papacy.
As soon as he became pope, Alexander VII, famous for having entrusted the construction of St. Peter's Square to Bernini, immediately summoned him to Rome and assigned him to the Congregation of Rites, marking him unequivocally to the via del cardinal but, the one that wanted to prove to be a descent for his ecclesiastical career was an important ascent since, almost at the time of his appointment, a manuscript of the Caramuel (written at the time of Prague) jumped in the eyes of the clericals “Teologia Moralis Fundamentalis” 5> , a text that was considered too risky as it was proposed in contrasting the rigorist theories of Jansenism. This in fact cost him the total agreement of the Consistory of all the cardinals in appointing him cardinal as Alexander VII had nevertheless set out.
But Caramuel (of a free, rebellious and visionary nature) following this event decided to reprint a second copy of the text in question and wanted to dedicate it to Fabio Chigi. This led him to an evident unsustainability of coexistence at the papal court, so in 1656, a year after his arrival in the Eternal City, it was decided to move him to smaller towns.
However, for us Campagnesi, what was a damage to the Caramuel turned out to be an enormous fortune.
On 9 July 1657 he was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Campagna, apparently promoted soon a punishment was found for his probabilistic positions and for his intolerance to the rigorist canons of the Roman church. In fact, in the theses expounded in the text "Fundamental Theology " he intended to place a sdogmatization of the hard action put in place. The latter were censored and the same accused of having an indulgent and lax judgment about morality, so much so that Sant'Alfonso lo will define " Prince of laxity ". 6 .
The fact is that when Juan Caramuel arrived in Campagna, he found a diocese in a very bad state of abandonment, probably due to the plague epidemic that was going to end and for this reason, one can think, that he chose as his residence, at first, that of Sant'Angelo le Fratte, perhaps worried about the danger of getting sick.
It must be said, however, that he came to Campagna at the height of his human, cultural and professional maturity and all this brought enormous benefits to our beloved city.
His first action as the new bishop of the city was to inform the pontiff of the massive decimation that Campagna suffered during those years: in fact, from about 5000 souls there were just over 1800. He returned to our walls in 1657 and immediately wanted to give vigor. to ecclesial bodies, favoring the rebirth of the city, a move that brought tangible benefits for at least 50 years.
During his tenure Caramuel also distinguished himself, and above all, for the publication of very important books and despite the fact that he no longer had the possibility as in the past to consult prestigious libraries, his activity was incessant, indeed one can easily attribute to him a new lymph to the typographic activity in the countryside.
In this regard and as a testimony, it was his merit for the strengthening of the old printing press established almost a century earlier by De Nigris and from Filiuli , thus giving a new and very important momentum.
The important works were not long in coming. In 1667 he published " Logica Moralis ", in 1668 " Mitrica Poetica " second version of the one written in Madrid years earlier, in 1670 he printed his supreme work here in Campagna "< i> Mathesis Biceps, vetus et nova ", a masterful and deftly current work still today, given that for the first time ever the binary mathematical system was presented, the one that today is the basis for programming and functioning of today's computers.
He proposed a method for the trisection of angles and developed his own system of logarithms, finally he studied a system for determining longitude based on the position of the moon.
During his stay in the countryside he often and willingly went to the hermitage of San Michele on Monte Nero, eager to seek that tranquility necessary to carry out his studies, which he said were too often disturbed by the Via dell'Acqua then present at (missing a word) of the Bishop's Palace with the presence of many mills and oil mills.
On 19 September 1671 he even wanted to celebrate a public and general ordination asking the faithful to join him at the hermitage, a commemorative plaque 7 is still preserved today.
On 17 August 1673 he was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Vigevano and after 16 long years spent in Campagna, he left for this new destination that will accompany him in his last years of his intense life.
He died in 1682, at the age of 76 and on the occasion of his funeral, outside the Cathedral (designed by him), the inscription " The world will fall before a new Caramuel rises" was displayed. Juan Caramuel, a unique character of his kind, of absolute depth, has succeeded in the arduous task of demonstrating that faith and science can coexist peacefully. He was able to leave a lot to our village, but above all he traced the way towards the greatest teaching: "knowledge enriches you with a treasure that cannot end".
Thank you Juan, to everlasting memory.
Text by Cristian Viglione.
Revisions: Francesco Pezzuti.

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6. Valentino Izzo - Telling the Campaign ... Illustrious people. - VOL. P - 2005
7. Valentino Izzo - Telling the Campaign ... Illustrious people. - VOL. P - 2005

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