22 January 2014

The Venetian Refuge

My kids and I were going through a lesson about the rise of Venice and the unique role it played in the Middle Ages...not to mention the outrageous Fourth Crusade. (As if the Crusades weren't already outrageous enough!)

And I was reminded of the brief section in Fox's Book of Martyrs dealing with Venice and the Inquisition of 1542. There are a couple of moving tales. Antonio Ricetti and Francesco Spinola died defending the doctrines of Christ. If you have a copy, give it a read. If you know Christ you will meet them someday.

I remember years ago reading that passage while sitting along one of the canals in the city. Venice has always been intriguing but it was especially so in centuries past...before the days of the tourist economy.

During an age of persecution its cosmopolitan venue was a haven and refuge for the Medieval Underground....for Christian dissenters who refused to submit to the Papacy. In the post-Hildebrand era when the Roman power was ascendant, and hiding places were less frequent, Venice was still a safe haven. At least most of the time.

Why? Ironically Venice could be said to have been more secular than other parts of Western Europe. The Venetians cared far more about making money and their civil interests than enforcing Romanist doctrine. Christians have always preferred to live under secular governments or outright pagans than false tyrannical pseudo-Christian systems. Better the Turk than the Habsburg.


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