Colonna, Vittoria


Colonna, Vittoria
(ca. 1492-1547)
   Italian poet, born into one of the most ancient and powerful noble families of Rome. She married the marquis of Pescara, ruler of a small principality, and lived at Naples while her husband pursued his career as a military commander. At Naples she presided over a court society that included many of the leading intellectuals of her time, and she became famous for her intellect, personal virtue, and piety. She concentrated on intellectual and spiritual matters even more strongly after her husband died in 1525. Her devoutness drew her close to a number of reformminded Catholic clerics and laity.
   These close associates were known as the spirituali, including important figures like Gasparo Contarini, Bernardino Ochino, Reginald Pole, and Juan de Valdés, two of them cardinals and all of them inclined to think of religion as essentially an inward, personal experience. Colonna also became close to the artist Michelangelo, who wrote poems addressed to her and shared with her a mutual love that remained purely spiritual. She and several of her Roman circle were attracted to the Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith, though only one of the inner group (Ochino) ended by becoming a Protestant. Her spiritualizing ideas and sympathy for reform brought her under the suspicion of the Inquisition in the 1540s. Her poems have caused her to be ranked among Italy's leading female poets, and their publication (without her approval) in 1538 made her a much-admired author.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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