Jacopone da Todi

Jacopone da Todi, aka Jacopo de 'Benedetti , was born in Todi into a noble family around 1230. After having studied law in Bologna, Jacopone da Todi started his career as a notary practicing in the same city. According to tradition in 1268, his wife accidentally dies in the collapse of a floor. The moment of pain and bewilderment that follows, to some extent increased by the discovery that his wife made use of instruments of penance (the cilice), determines a radical change in the way of life of Jacopone da Todi. After abandoning his work and the people who had surrounded him until then, he sets out on a path of public penance and humiliation. According to tradition, he has moments and gestures almost of madness, for example he came to a banquet walking on all fours loaded with a donkey saddle, or at the wedding of his brother he appears naked, smeared with fat, and turned among feathers.

The Franciscan Order

In 1278 he entered the Franciscan Order as a lay friar. In that period the Order suffered internal struggles between the faction of the Conventuals supported by Pope Boniface VIII , who would like to lessen the rigor of the rule of St. Francis, and the group of Spirituals who instead pressed to keep the spirit of the Order unchanged. Jacopo, obviously given his experience of penance, sided with the least, and together with the cardinals Jacopo and Pietro Colonna he disavowed the validity of the election of Bonifacio; this provokes as a reaction first excommunication, then imprisonment (1298) from which only the new Pope Benedict XI (1303) can free him. Finally, the friar spends his last years in the convent of San Lorenzo di Collazzone near Todi where he died in 1306 AD.

The man and the works

The most famous Todi citizen of the Middle Ages is the author of numerous works, among which the "Laudi", typical compositions of the period, in some ways similar to the Canticle of the Creatures of San Francesco and probably inspired by it, stand out for their quality and organicity. However, the tone and the basic poetics of the friar is less happy and mystical, it seems that the harmony with nature and the wonder of the world that characterized the enthusiasm of St. Francis has been partly lost. On the other hand, Jacopo's work dominates a more material and painful conception, a vision more withdrawn into one's own self, evidently the result of the misfortunes that marked the author's life.