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Barnabas of Terni



(Interamna)

Friar Minor and missionary, d. 1474 (or 1477). He belonged to the noble family of the Manassei and was a man of great learning, being Doctor of Medicine and well versed in letters and philosophy. Despising the honours and vanities of the world, he entered the Order of Friars Minor in the Umbria province of the order and practised, with unusual fervour, every virtue of the religious life. After devoting himself assiduously to the study of theology, Barnabas began to preach with wonderful success, but a severe illness obliged him to abandon this work. Although gifted with the grace of prayer and contemplation in an eminent degree, he was almost continually employed in different offices of importance, for which his prudence, kindness, and affability well fitted him. By word and example he proved himself a zealous promoter of that branch of the order known as the Observance. He died at the hermitage of the Carceri on Mount Subiaco at an advanced age and his remains were deposited there in the Chapel of St. Mary Magdelene. He is commemorated in the Franciscan martyrology on 17 February. To Barnabas belongs the honour of having established the first of the celebrated monti di pietà, or charitable loan-institutions, designed to protect poor people against the outrageous usury of the Jews. After consulting his fellow religious Fortunatus Coppoli, who had been an eminent jurisconsult, and with the generous co-operation of the wealthy Perugians, Barnabas established the first monte di pietà in their city in 1462. Violent opposition ensued, but Barnabas and Fortunatus prevailed over their enemies at a public disputation. Barnabas next extended his work to other cities; it was enthusiastically taken up by several great Franciscan missionaries, and in their day, the monti di pietà wonderfully improved the social conditions of Italy. (See BERNARDINE OF FELTRE.)

Wadding, Annales Minorum (2d ed.), XIV, 93, XV, 318; Holzapfel, Die Anfanger der Montes Pietatis (Munich, 1903), 35 passim.

Thomas Plassmann








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