Prierias, Sylvester

Prierias, Sylvester a Roman Catholic theologian of the time of the Reformation, and noted for his antagonism to the new movement, was born in 1460. His family-name was Mazolini, but he was called De Prierio, or Prierias, from the place of his birth (Prierio, in the county of Asti, in Piedmont). At the age of sixteen he entered the Dominican order, and was soon received as baccalaureate. As he had the gift of a singularly clear and ready exposition, he was surrounded by a crowd of pupils at the Gymnasium of Bologna, of which he had become the director. At the request of the Senate of Venice he accepted for a few years a professorship of theology at Padua, and was then prior at Milan, Verona, and Como. In 1508, in an assembly of the members of his order from both Lombardys, held at Mantua, he was elected vicar-general; two years later he was elected prior at Bologna. His renown and the recommendation of Dominico Grimani, bishop of Porto, induced pope Julius II to call him to Rome in 1511 as public lecturer on theology. Upon the death of the Magister Sacrti Palatii, Frater Joannes de Rafanellis (generally called De Ferraria), in 1515, Prierias was promoted to the vacant dignity by pope Leo X. Prierias died in 1523, and was buried in the church of St. Mary ad Minervam. He was the first non-German theologian who took up the pen against Luther. In 1518 he published Dialogus it praesumptuosas Alarstini Lutheri conclusiones de potestate Papee and his Replica in Lutherum; then in the following years his Errata et Argumenta Lutheri recitata, detecatat, et copiosissimn trita, and his Epitona Responsionis cad eundem Lutherum. The style is quite scholastic, and his defense of the papal primacy not without ability from a Romanist standpoint. But Luther, in his blunt and telling manner, laid so bare all the weaknesses of papal pretension as to make the defense of Prierias contemptible. The pope himself saw the inferiority of his defender in the contest, and admonished Prierias to silence; though he appointed him one of the judges of Luther at a later time. Some writings attributed falsely to Prierias are the works of a later magister of the order, Franciscus Sylvester. After his death appeared under his name some satires, composed after the fashion of the Epistolce obscur. — viz., Modus solennis et authenticus ad inquirendum et convincendum Lutheranos valde necessartits, and the Tractatus de arte et modo inquirendi haereticos. See Echard and Quetif, Bibliotheca Pradicatorum; Pressel (in Herzog), Real-Encyklopädie, for the Protestant, and Aschbach, Kirchen-Lexikon, for the Roman Catholic estimate of this man. See also Fisher, Hist. of the Reformation, p. 96; Alzog, Kirchengesch. 2, 262. (J. H. W.)

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