Bartholomew Gutierrez, or Bartholomew of Urbino O.S.A. as he is usually called after the town of his birth where also he served as bishop during the last three years of his life (1347 – 1350).
He is best known for the work he completed by 1345, the Milleloquium veritatis Sancti Augustini (to use its full title). "Milleloquium" literally means "a thousand words," but Bartholomew wrote many more than that - a concordance of the truth of St Augustine. In his youth, Bartholomew entered the Augustinian Order in Urbino, his native town, where he also began his studies. This took him to the Augustinian studium generale in Paris where he obtained the doctorate in theology. From 1321 on he was professor in the Augustinian studium in Bologna. Here he became acquainted with the future humanist author, Francesco Petrarch who was, with some interruptions, a law student there between 1322 and 1326.
His Milleloquium Sancti Augustini was his greatest work. With his motto "back to the sources”, (in this case the source being St Augustine), he gathered under a thousand articles or key words nearly fifteen thousand citations from the works of St Augustine. His intent was to assemble under each word in his dictionary the greatest possible number of Augustinian texts. ln carrying out this task he demonstrated his ability to locate manuscripts as well as his diligence as a literary historian. A detailed examination of his work shows that he himself read and extracted all the passages quoted.
He journeyed to various libraries in order to find reliable texts and spared neither effort nor fatigue. For this reason his search was rewarded with many important finds. ln the three appendices at the end of his work the distinction librorum merits particular attention. lt presents a well ordered division of Augustine's writings into letters, books, and sermons, which for Bartholomew's era was a surprising innovation. As well, he showed fine critical sense as an author when he separated authentic and apochryphal works, using as his guide Augustine's own Retractations, the Bishop of Hippo's own recounting of his literary production made at the end of his life.
The Milleloquium proved very successful. At the request of the author, Petrarch wrote an introduction in verse that further contributed to the Success of the book. The fact that fifty codices are still preserved attests to its wide circulation, and it achieved five editions between 1555 and 1734. Even today the work continues to be the most complete index of the writings of St Augustine, including also those works considered at the time to be authentic. Friar Bartholomew also composed a Milleloquium Sancti Ambrosii using the same format. Bartholomew compiled of approximately fifteen hundred passages from Augustine's works, arranged alphabetically in 1,081 thematic entries (as given in the Lyon 1555 edition) under Latin subject headings from "Abel” to "Zizania," (e,g,, fides, haeresis, justicia).
Bartholomew dedicated the work to the Augustinian Prior General, Denis of Modena. Denis was elected Prior General at the General Chapter of Milan in 1343 and died two years later. The work was popular, surviving in more than fifty manuscripts. From 1555 until 1734, it was reprinted five or six times. Bartolomew may have discovered Augustine’s De Musica, which had been feared lost to posterity. He strove for precision. He was careful to present only passages he claimed to have seen himself and gave the precise citation, or apologized for not being able to do so. He verified the authenticity of Augustine's works with reference to Augustine’s own Retractationes (“Retractions”), and gave clear and specific citations of the source of each extract.
Bartholomew included a catalogue of Augustine's theological texts, letters and sermons, plus summaries of each. Not all the excerpts were authentically Augustine's, but this massive concordance reveals Augustine as he was known to the later Middle Ages. The Milleloquium is not a mere collection of Augustinian dicta, but a critical piece of scholarship carried out by one whose knowledge of St Augustine's writings was probably unmatched in his time.
Bartholomew displayed a working knowledge of Augustine that was at least equal to that of his order's university theologians. The Milleloquium, however, stemmed not from a university milieu but from the neglected network of the non-university studia (local study houses for Augustinian candidates) He never ascended to the magisterium (the Master or the Doctor of Theology level); he compiled the Milleloquium as an outsider of the Augustinian Order's theological establishment. Few details of his life are known, other than that he was lector (teacher) of theology in Bologna, beginning in 1321.
In the preface of the Milleloquium, Bartholomew wrote that he began working on it in 1321. A similar project had been undertaken by Augustinus (Triumphus) of Ancona O.S.A. (1243 – 1328), whose project was unfinished when he died in 1328. Did Bartholomew benefit by obtaining these earlier materials? Certainly, Bartholomew never indicated or acknowledged having inherited such a windfall, and even goes so far as to acknowledge by name several authors (but not Augustinus of Ancona) whose works inspired him to produce the Milleloquium. Although there is no direct evidence for doubting Bartholomew’s sole authorship, this question has persisted.
The young Petrarch was a friend of Bartholomew's. They first met in Bologna around 1321 when the friar began teaching there. Petrarch later alluded to the Milleloquium in a letter to the Avignon Pope Clement VI. Over two decades later, in 1347 shortly after he had become Bishop of Urbino, Bartholomew requested Petrarch to write some poetry to be included in the Milleloquium. Petrarch complied with Bartholomew's request and sent him the verses in Latin, together with a letter which shows how kindly disposed he was towards this Augustinian friar:
Photos (at right): Picture 1: Catena Aurea ("golden chain") by Thomas Aquinas O.P. Picture 2: The Milleloquium by Bartholomew of Urbino O.S.A. Picture 3: Sermons on the Saints by Henry of Friemar O.S.A., copied in 1386 by the Augustinians at Windsheim, Germany."But I return to your Augustine and to you. You have asked me to send you some verses to be added to the end of that great work which with great labour you have put together from the stones and mortar of that most noble paterfamilias, and which you have prepared for the present Pope but even more for posterity. I have obeyed you to whom I can refuse nothing.Though for a long time the Muses were indignant and other. Cares kept me away, but now your request has called back my mind which had been drawn away -from that kind of study. I send you, then, a few elegiacs and if you prefer, as many hexameters of the same sentence, use either or both of them."
Petrarch's verses for the Milleloquium are extant in MS 647 of the Bibliotheque Mazarine of Paris and were reprinted in the catalogue of that collection in 1885, and in another publication in 1907. Of the printed editions of the Milleloqium only a few seem to contain Petrarch's verses, for instance, those of Lyons in 1555 and Brescia in 1934. Pope Clement VI bestowed the bishopric of Urbino on Bartolomew in 1347, perhaps on the strength of his De Romani Pontificis Christi Vicarii Auctoritate (“The Authority of the Roman Pontiff as the Vicar of Christ”). He was sure to have been an admirer of the Milleloquium, which was a better-known accomplishment.
Bartolomew made possible a coherent and guided engagement with Augustine's thinking, although not with his autobiography or his theological values. From the perspective of a preacher, an impatient scholar, a curious reader, and a patron or artist, the Milleloquium was an invaluable and unique resource in shaping an Augustinian “way.”
For further reading
The Authorship of the “Milleloquium veritatis S. Augustini.” Rudolph Arbesmann O.S.A.. Rome: Analecta Augustiniana, Vol XLIII (1980), pp. 171-185. AN4309