|Andrea da Firenze|
Triumph of St Thomas Aquinas
Cappellone degli Spagnoli (Spanish Chapel)
Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, Florence
The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Florence is an amazing (Dominican) church, with a distinctive façade and incredible art inside. I went there primarily to see Masaccio’s The Holy Trinity, a truly transformative work of art that had a big impact on other artists (especially the use of perspective).
Viewers can see their resignation if not despair at being defeated by Thomas by their postures and expressions (e.g., Averroës rests his hand in his hand). See the discussion on WGA (the photos come from there as well).
Back to Thomas and his interpretation of the parable:
The parable of the Wheat and Weeds, as I mentioned in part 2 of this series of posts, also comes into play when Thomas addresses the question: “Whether [Christian] heretics ought to be tolerated?” Thomas argues that it could be examined from two sides. First, the heretic deserves to be excommunicated from the church and “severed from the world by death,” because it is a worse offense to corrupt another’s faith (and damage an eternal soul) than to forge money (and damage an earthly life). The secular state condemns forgers to death, and heresy is a much graver matter, so “much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death.” The church, however, has mercy and looks to convert the heretic, instructing them more than once. When heretics refuse to be corrected, though, the church has to keep in mind the salvation of others that heretics might lead astray. Therefore the church should not only excommunicate heretics from the church but also should deliver them “to the secular tribunal to be exterminated thereby from the world by death.”
Thomas then specifically responds to discussions of the parable of the Wheat and the Tares that argue against killing a sinner. Thomas again disagrees:
Later this week, a few comments about how some in the church connected vegetarianism to heresy and then on to Wazo of Liège's interpretation of the parable.
P.S. It has nothing to do with the reception of the parables, but just in case you didn't click on the link to Masaccio’s The Holy Trinity above. It's the first thing I saw when I walked into the amazing church: