Samson, Bernhardin

Samson, Bernhardin, A Franciscan monk, who plied the traffic in indulgences in Switzerland at the time of Tetzel's exploits in Saxony, was a native of Milan, but the dates of his birth and death are not known. He is described by his contemporaries as an eloquent, insolent monk. He was employed in the indulgence traffic by cardinal Forli, to whom Leo X had farmed out the territory of Switzerland. He entered Switzerland in August, 1518, and passed from canton to canton with great success, assuming great state, and giving great offense to the local clergy. Meantime Zwingli was called as priest to Zurich. He had already raised his voice against the traffic, but now he was summoned by bishop Hugo to make a direct attack upon Samson. Others also were likewise summoned. As Samson had not duly presented his credentials to the bishop, the latter ordered his whole diocese to exclude him from their churches. Samson retired into Baden, and met with great success. In his zeal in urging the indulgences upon the people, he represented the souls thereby rescued from purgatory as flying to heaven by swarms: "Ecce volant! Ecce volant!" In Feb., 1519, he went to Bremgarten, but Henry Bullinger, the priest of the place, refused to admit him into his church. Thereupon Samson pronounced the ban against him, and threatened to complain against him to the government at Zurich. On reaching Zurich, however, he was peremptorily ordered to absolve Bullinger, and to quit the country. In answer to a complaint of the Swiss authorities, pope Leo X announced (April 30, 1519) that he had already recalled Samson, and that in case their complaints were found corroborated, he should punish him. After Samson's retiring to Italy, all trace of him is lost. See the authorities cited in Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 13:392-394. (J.P.L.)

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