Now I have a question I've been meaning to ask for a while, about the famous artisan in Bologna who was worried about his livelihood after Bernardino's bonfires. Iris Origo, in The world of San Bernardino
, 1962, speaks of "the beautiful hand painted playing-cards, called tarocch
i, which were a specialty of their city." I would be very surprised if they were called tarocchi then, and I would be tempted to write this comment off as a confusion based on a later Life, except that she gives a specific reference, with a page number. Here is what she says (pp. 188f), which is followed by a footnote:
According to one of the most charming stories told about him by his first biographer, Barnabo da Siena, it was this design [meaning the YHS] that Fra Bernardino himself drew on a rough card for a poor little artisan of Bologna called Valesio, who had come to him in tears after the day on which the Bolognese, at the preacher's behest, had cast into a great bonfire, which they called 'the Devil's castle,' not only their gaming-boards and diece, but also the beautiful painted playing-cards, called tarocchi, which were a specialty of their city.
So Bernardino gives him the YHS to paint instead, and he "never lacked bread again," Origo paraphrases.
The footnote is to Barnabo da Siena, AASS, p. 743. AASS is "the Acta Sanctorum
(these include the Lives of San Bernardino by Barnabo da Siena, Maffeo Veglio and Ludovico di Vicenza)." Barnabo's seems to be vol. iv, pp. 739-746.
Dummett appears to have discussed something very much like this statement that she is quoting--dice, gaming boards, and naibi rather than tarocchi--but it is by a different author, and a different page, p. 257, and apparently vol. v (I am using the discussion of Dummett by Vitali at http://www.associazioneletarot.it/page.aspx?id=227
My question is, what does Barnabo actually say in vol. iv, p. 743? Anything pertaining to the subject of cards, in any city (e.g. Siena)? (I am allowing for te possibility that her reference might be of interest, even if her quotation of it is wrong. Vitali and Dummett don't seem to mention this page at all.)
Thierry Depaulis and I looked into this story in 2005 - it is apocryphal, or, perhaps better said, legendary.
But first, Origo's citation cannot be right. The volumes of the AASS (Acta Sanctorum) are usually cited by month and volume within the month. For instance, January has two volumes, February 3, and May 7 volumes (even though one of them is divided between two physical volumes, it is counted as one). It's true that Dummett (GoT p. 142) cites "Acta Sanctorum
vol. XVI", but this is unconventional, and he adds the correct means of citation immediately afterward "May vol. 5".
Bernardino of Siena's day is May 20, which is volume 5 of May, pages 257-325. This is the 16th volume of the series, counting the first volume of January as volume 1, as Dummett did.
I believe the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum
project is not yet complete - insofar as it ever can be completed, since new saints are made all the time - but you can see most of the public domain ones here in PDF -
http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/2 ... torum.html
So - Origo's "vol. iv" means either the general "volume IV", which means volume 2 of the month of February, or volume 4 of the Month of May. You can see both at the Documenta Catholica Omnia
site given above.
If it is the general "Volume IV", February tome 2, then page 743 brings you to February 14, which is the end of the entry for Saint Valentine, and the beginning of the entry for Saints Vitale, Felicula and Zenobia. Therefore it is not this volume that Origo refers to.
Volume 4 for May only has 631 pages (not counting the index), so it cannot be this volume either.
Therefore, I conclude that Origo's citation is mistaken here, or that you have mistakenly represented it.
In fact, the three Vitae
of Bernardino of Siena are in May, tome/volume 5. That of Barnabo of Siena occupies pages 277-284. The episode cited by Origo and many others is not described as such here, the closest to it is on page 281, left column, where Bernabo describes an undated bonfire of the vanities in Siena, including naibes
and other games.
None of the lives in the Acta Sanctorum
is the source of this story. It is another Vita
that was only published in 1635 (although written in the late 15th century). This anonymous Vita
places it only in "oppidum quoddam" (a certain town), and says that Bernardino was confronted by a maker of "tabulas lusorias" - backgammon boards - and complained about his livelihood, Bernardino then giving him the YHS to make, his business prospering, etc.
There is nothing about cards here.
The Bolognese historian Cherubino Ghirardacci, who died in 1598, had the second part of his Della historia di Bologna
published over a half century later in 1657. It is there that we first encounter the name "Valesio" and the transformation of his business into that of a cardmaker, rather than making board games (page 644).
(I thought that it was online, but it looks like I'll have to copy out the passage.
Ghirardacci's own source was Carlo Sigonio (Sigonius), who recounted the story without naming the cardmaker, but saying he made "tabellas lusorias", i.e. a variation of the Anonymous Vita
's account. Thierry concluded that Ghirardacci must have been reporting a local legend that had been embellished over time, in order to account for the name "Valesio", and that he perhaps translated Sigonio's description ""faber quidam tabellas lusorias pingere" as "un certo huomo chiamato Valesio, dipingendo le carte da giuocare", perhaps because playing cards are the normal "painted" thing that people think of, not backgammon boards.
Note that the legend becomes further embellished over time - in 1935, Arthur Hind repeated the story from Bernardino's French biographer Paul Thureau-Dangin (1896), but he added that the cardmaker began to "cut the Sacred Monogram" (i.e. woodcut), whereas Thureau-Dangin only says that the cardmaker "painted" the image.
Origo adds yet another embellishment, that I had not heard until you posted it, that the cards were "tarocchi".
This is an illustration of how legends grow.