Spettri della memoria (Italian Edition)

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At the age of 16, he entered the Jesuit Order in Rome. He continued his studies at the Roman College, and demonstrated great scientific ability. In , he began theological studies in Rome, and was ordained a priest on 12 September In , due to the Roman Revolution, the Jesuits had to leave Rome. He also took his doctoral examination in theology there. He studied with Maury and corresponded with him for many years. He returned to Rome in On the recommendation of his late colleague Francesco de Vico, he became head of the Observatory of the College at age In , under his direction, the crumbling Observatory was relocated to a new facility on top of the Sant'Ignazio Church the chapel of the College.

Secchi served as Director until his death. His position was challenged after , when the remnant of the Papal States around Rome was taken over by the Kingdom of Italy. In , the College was declared property of the Italian government. When the government moved to take over the Observatory as well, Secchi protested vigorously, and threatened to leave the Observatory for one of several positions offered to him by foreign observatories.

He was offered important scientific positions and political dignities by the government, but refused to pledge allegiance to the Kingdom in place of the Pope. The royal government did not dare to interfere with him, and he continued as Director. He died in at age 59, in Rome. Secchi made contributions to many areas of astronomy. However, his main area of interest was astronomical spectroscopy. He invented the heliospectrograph, star spectrograph, and telespectroscope.

He showed that certain absorption lines in the spectrum of the Sun were caused by absorption in the Earth's atmosphere. The lunar crater Secchi and the Martian crater Secchi are both named after him, as is a main belt asteroid, Secchi. Back to Profile. The news was immediately published by the Sferza in Brescia , 50 and ten days later, in greater detail in the Gazzetta di Mantova ; this latter article was widely reproduced by the newspapers of Hapsburg Italy. The widespread public acceptance of the blood libel called for an immediate response and a public refutation capable of counteracting prevalent prejudice.

This project, though the names of its initiators are today impossible to establish, took shape among the leaders of the Jewish communities in Padua and Venice, and in the intellectual circles close to the Rabbinical College of Padua, 52 the main Jewish cultural center in the area. The support of political authorities, which had been crucial for the success of the campaign against the libel in the press, was guarantee against intervention from the censors.

Hailing from a long-standing tradition, public self-defense also reflected contemporary states of mind among European Jews, affected especially by the Damascus affair. Samuel David Luzzatto Shadal , professor at the Rabbinical College and renowned Hebraist, was familiar with the text 55 and shared its perspective. His rationalist approach followed the principles of the Wissenschaft des Judenthums , a European Jewish movement which rediscovered, by using scholarly method and analysis, its own religious and historical-cultural heritage.

Under the Austrians, Jewish leadership in the area had repeatedly produced joint responses to dangerous challenges from majority society. The conference of was, by contrast, an official event, which required participating members to renounce their traditional autonomy.

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They were distinguished people even in the eyes of non-Jewish society and experienced in dealing with the political authorities. The conference finalized the decision to take action against surrounding majority prejudice by publishing a report on the upcoming Castilliero trial together with a refutation of the blood libel based on rigorously documented historical-religious arguments.

Immediately following the conference, Jewish leaders of the region began preparation for the envisioned publication, led by Venice.

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Levi asked Cervesato to clarify the structure of the upcoming Castilliero trial. The risk was that the young woman would be indicted for theft primarily and the slander reduced to an ancillary crime, thus downplaying the importance of the mistreatment suffered by Ravenna and the need for redress. This scenario required an alternative strategy. The attorney gave a reassuring opinion, which ultimately proved to be correct. The task of drafting the preliminary briefs, which would specify documentary sources and outline an overall strategy, was assigned to two learned experts with a solid background in Jewish history and religious lore.

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Through his mentor, Luzzatto, he was also connected to the Wissenschaft des Judenthums movement. Luzzatto was instrumental in other ways, giving Mainster bibliographical leads 77 and inspiring the research conducted by Romanin, to whom he was connected by feelings of esteem and friendship. The briefs provided the Jewish leadership with essential material for the refutation.

As we will show, the refutation was eventually based on a Protestant text and represented — in a manner consciously apologetic — the blood libel as a malicious deviation from Christian worldview. The legend of the infant from Trent sacrificed by the Jews in 81 had served as one of the main sources for legitimating the allegation of ritual murder. Its appeal derived from popular religious devotion, recognized by the Church, and had been revived by both erudite and popular hagiography, with increasing intensity, since the mid-eighteenth century.

His work continued a project conceived by Shadal during the Damascus crisis. This brought the civil and ecclesiastical authorities together to search for a new saint who would attract a stream of devotees and pilgrims, bringing prestige and income to the city of Trent.

The publication would then lose much of its persuasive impact, even if still permitted to circulate without restriction. Making choices of this kind had always posed a problem for the Jewish community; the issue remained unresolved as late as the end of the nineteenth century.

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Lombardo-Venetian Jewry under Austrian rule was typically reluctant to intervene publicly in political or religious questions that concerned them directly: the risks involved — censorship and clashing with hostile Catholic public opinion — were effective deterrents.

Issuing a publication by the communities themselves appeared a doubtful course to pursue. The periodical offered by the young Venetian journalist, a leading liberal publication, was a respected biweekly covering legal issues. Protected by the young woman's staunch silence, this character was not going to appear as one of the accused. Castilliero, charged with having slandered Ravenna, was tried in the Court of Rovigo during September October 1, Following the proceedings, Zajotti returned to Venice, where he started printing the special supplement to the Eco dei Tribunali.


This was published in fourteen biweekly installments later to be collected in a large-format booklet of fifty-six pages. The text was divided into two interconnected parts, the first a detailed report of the trial proceedings and the second made up of two refutations of the blood libel.

One of these was fully referenced with extensive primary source citations. The exact number of copies printed is not known, but the publication must have been widely circulated, especially in the Veneto area. As reported in the Eco dei Tribunali , the trial was conducted in a manner acceptable to the Jews, even if an occasional shadow was cast on certain points. The public in the courtroom found the proceedings captivating, but the trial itself did not yield any new relevant disclosures.


The magistrates used the proceedings to address the only question still open, urging the accused to reveal the identity of her instigator. Blaming an unknown carter, Castilliero repeated a story that had already been disproved, and thus lost the disposition of the Court in favor of clemency. The trial also marked Ravenna's solemn rehabilitation, legally irrelevant but crucial for the economy of the publication.

Having legally established his innocence, the entrepreneur, through a statement delivered by his lawyer Cervesato, withdrew from the proceedings and forgave his slanderer. After brief deliberation, the Court issued the sentence requested by the public prosecutor. The architect of the crime was an unidentified Ravenna enemy, with personal ties to the accused, whom he was able to take advantage of to act upon his plan.

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Justice had initially been deceived by the conspirators, depriving Ravenna of his honor and freedom. But truth was soon reestablished, and eventually led to the release of the slandered victim and the arrest of the slanderer. Although she had confessed, Castilliero was still loyal to the criminal network she had acted at the behest of; she was not sincerely repentant, and deserved no pity.

The Badia affair taught this lesson: Jews should not be attacked on the basis of slander and prejudice. The chronicling of the Badia affair formed the basis for the refutation of the ritual murder stereotype. To this end, two discussion pieces followed up on the court proceedings, constituting the second part of the publication. The first piece was composed in the form of a letter addressed to Zajotti; it contains a brief but well-documented counter-history of the blood libel by Cervesato.

Jewish intellectuals, nonetheless, played a decisive role in the composition of the text, providing the lawyer with the documentary references needed and elucidating the strategy to be adopted based on the briefs by Mainster and Romanin. His argument was primarily indebted to one of the first systematic refutations of the blood libel ever produced by a Christian; the official text of this had been submitted to the Elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus II, by the Theological Faculty of Leipzig in Synthetic and schematic, the text was chosen to be the mainstay of the documentary appendix and would be published on the pages of the Eco with the trial proceedings.

Less nuanced than Romanin, Luzzatto had voiced the same idea in explaining the Trent libel, borrowing this interpretation from early modern Jewish histories and memoirs. In their investigation of a recent case from the vicinity of Aachen, the Prussian judiciary had withdrawn the charge against two Jews, and recorded the discovered motive of their slanderers: a sum of money which they stood to gain. In the summer of the blood libel, according to the testimony of the rabbi and teacher at the Paduan College, Lelio Della Torre, had led to attacks on Judaism based on ancient theological stereotypes enhanced by echoes of the Damascus affair and spread far and wide by ultramontane propagandistic literature.

The Jews, according to claims often connected to these attacks, used Christian blood in ceremonies prescribed by their religion. The main target of this theory, although Della Torre did not explicitly mention it, must have been the Talmud, a then unknown work which had been denigrated by the Church for centuries, and which aroused the distrust of the surrounding non-Jewish milieu. In mounting an attack against these claims, Cervesato relied heavily on the historical and religious information affirmed by the official statement by the Theological Faculty of Leipzig.

Thus, the Jews refused to eat meat not slaughtered according to ritual shechitah procedure, for fear of being contaminated by its blood residues.

Spettro Sonoro’s tracks

The blood libel as a ploy based on using trumped up charges, had appeared in the late ancient period, striking, as Tertullian wrote, the first Christians. The genesis of the anti-Jewish ritual murder charge was explained, as hypothesized by the Saxon theologians, as a byproduct of the political-religious fanaticism fueled by the Crusades. The monks and the opportunists who had devised the blood libel against the Jews wanted to satisfy their lust for power and wealth, fighting a sort of parallel anti-Jewish crusade of their own.

Invoking the pogroms of the Rhine and Moselle valleys, the lawyer recalled the Church's defense of the Jews, well known to an audience familiar with the romantic rediscovery of the Crusades. According to him, the position of the medieval popes had been adopted by the civil authorities, uniting them in the defense of the laws of tolerance in the face of the periodic re-emergence of the accusation.

His proof was based on an imagined trial against Ravenna held according to inquisitorial procedure. The deposition of Castilliero, although far-fetched, was supported by sufficient evidence to resort to the use of torture. His conviction, however, would not have proven his guilt, nor produced any revelation about his religious tradition. Thanks to the legal safeguards, Ravenna had instead proved his innocence, persuading magistrates and even the most obstinate observers.

Publicizing the proceedings of the Castilliero trial, a satisfying enterprise for the Jewish communities of the land with the exception of Mantua, had a positive impact in the short term. His main field of research is social and intellectual history of the Jews in 19th century Italy, particularly in connection with the emergence of modern anti-Semitism. Quest Editorial staff, Quest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History. Holocaust Research and Archives in the Digital Age.

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