From Rome to Zurich

97463From Rome to Zurich, between Ignatius and Vermigli brings notable scholars from the fields of Reformation and Early Modern studies [together] …. Touching Protestant scholasticism, Reformation era life writing, Reformation polemics – both Protestant and Catholic – and with several on theology proper, inter alia, the essays collected here by a group of international scholars break new ground in Reformation history, thought, and theology, providing fresh insights into current scholarship in both Reformation and Catholic Reformation studies. The essays take in the broad scope of the 16th century, from Thomas More to Martin Bucer, and from Thomas Stapleton to Peter Martyr Vermigli.

Contributors include: Emidio Campi, Maryanne Cline Horowitz, A. Lynn Martin, Thomas McCoog, SJ, Joseph McLelland, Richard A. Muller, Eric Parker, Robert Scully, SJ, and Jason Zuidema.

The volume is comprised of the following:

Introduction: The Editors

  • Reminiscences:
    I. An Irish-American Jesuit in the Madison Mafia. A. Lynn Martin
    II. Joseph McLelland
  • Bio-Bibliography O’Donnelly


  • Mourning in Lonely Exile: the Irish Ministry of William Good, S.J. – Thomas M. McCoog, S.J.
  • Man of Conscience, Martyr, and Saint: Thomas More’s Life and Death in the Memory of the English Catholic Community – Robert Scully, S.J.
  • Thomas Stapleton: Loathes Calvin; will travel – Gary W. Jenkins
  • Sixteenth- and Early Seventeenth-Century Ideas of Imagination – Maryanne Cline Horowitz
  • Calvinist Thomism Revisited: William Ames (1576-1633) and the Divine Ideas – Richard A. Muller
  • ‘Saint Dionysius’: Martin Bucer’s Transformation of the Pseudo-Areopagite – Eric M. Parker
  • “Protestant Monasticism between the Reformation Critique and New Monasticism” – Jason Zuidema
  • Cognition and Action: Conversion and ‘virtue ethics’ in the Commonplaces of Peter Martyr Vermigli – Torrance Kirby
  • Was Peter Martyr a grandfather of the Heidelberg Catechism? A relecture of Questions 47 and 48 against the background of Peter Martyr’s Christological controversy with Johannes Brenz – Emidio Campi


As is the case with every Festschrift, the essays here collected aim to honor aspects of the honoree’s academic contributions.  This one highlights the vast interests of its recipient which extend quite widely to include such topics as Vermigli and monasticism and Calvinism and anti-Calvinism and others besides.

And like all such collections there are good essays and excellent essays.   Three here stand out.  First, Gary Jenkins’ wonderfully written explanation of Stapleton’s hatred of Calvin and Calvinism is superbly entertaining.  Jason Zuidema’s investigation of Protestant monasticism is both eye opening and enlightening.  And Emidio Campi’s work on the Heidelberg Catechism and Brenz is, as is the case with all of Campi’s work, a demonstration of the apex of historical knowledge.

Time is too short to engage with every essay so I would like to spend the remainder of the review engaging Jenkins’ work on Stapleton.   Stapleton, like so many figures in the history of the Church, is, I confess, a person previously unknown to me.  Jenkins’ chief accomplishment in his essay is to bring to life and light a man who clearly despised the heretic Calvin and was unafraid to speak his mind about him and his teachings.

As Jenkins notes:

For Stapleton, a prime evil afflicting Calvin was the notion of certitude (p. 78).

Calvin, in short, annoyed Stapleton precisely because Calvin was so sure of his views and so certain of his correctness.  Jenkins also observes

While Stapleton spent enormous effort in defending both Catholic Eucharistic doctrine and the Catholic doctrine of the authority and jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff and the Church herself, the question of justification held the primary place in Stapleton’s mind as explanatory of the errors of Protestantism (p. 77).

And quite interestingly

For Stapleton, Calvin had so twisted the truth of Christianity that it was impossible to believe that he even worshiped the Christian God. In short, Calvin was an atheist, for he had so wildly corrupted the moral order that it stood unrecognizable in Stapleton’s mind as anything Christian (p. 74).

What I find so intriguing here is the fact that Stapleton, and English Catholic, had many of the same attitudes towards Calvin that our own modern day Arminians (Weslyans) do.  It’s passing odd that Catholics like Stapleton and Arminians like Wesley could find common ground in their unhidden disdain for Calvin.

There really is nothing new under the sun.  Not even hatred of Calvin.

Jenkins entire essay is a case study in English Catholic contempt for Calvinism.  It is no accident, then, that the concluding lines nicely summarize the situation:

It probably did not help Calvin’s standing in his [i.e., Stapleton’s] eyes that so many of his fellow English looked to Calvin, though ironically, many, like bishop Jewel, looked to Zurich. This Zurich turn of course was not the case when he wrote “contra Guillelmum Whitakerum Anglo- Calvinistam.” It is no jump, therefore, to assert that Stapleton the Catholic apologist saw in Calvin the star guiding so many of those who effected both his vagabond life and the odyssey of the exile English Catholic community.

Calvin, for Stapleton, was the root cause of all his struggles.

This is a very useful collection and I commend it to you and recommend it for inclusion in your University or College library (the cost being rather prohibitive for personal libraries unless researchers are engaged in examining a rather slim and concentrated period of the history of the Church).