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Gregory of Rimini – Ariminensis

Gregory of Rimini, also known as Ariminensis, born in Rimini at the start of the 14th Century, according to the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy “may have been the last great scholastic theologian of the Middle Ages”.

Gregory, having joined the Augustinian order, studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, roughly between 1323 and 1329, returning to Italy to teach in Augustinian study centres in Bologna, Padua, and Perugia. During the 1340s he returned to study and lecture in Paris, probably becoming a Master of Theology in and around 1345, before returning to Italy to take up the post of rector at the newly created Augustinian studium in his home town of Rimini. In 1357 he was elected prior general of the Augustinians, though he died shortly after, in Vienna, in 1358.

Gregory is best known for his commentary on Peter Lombard’s Four Books of Sentences. Lombard’s Sentences was a major compilation of biblical texts, coupled with commentary from the Church Fathers and the giants of Church thinking, put together in the 1200s. Gregory’s commentaries on the Sentences were printed and distributed long after the Italian philosopher’s death, Gregory’s work was borrowed/plagiarized/leaned on heavily by various important thinkers throughout the middle ages and the reformation (including James of Eltville, Henry of Langstein, and Pierre d’Ailly).

Gregory of Rimini is widely credited for having helped diffuse the work of Oxford philosophers such as William of Ockham (also spelt Occam). To support philosophers or theologians in Gregory’s day was not a simple rubber stamping – remember, Ockam, for example, was called to account before the Papal court at Avignon, accused of Heresy.

Tortores Infantium – Gregory and the fate of unbaptized children

To the present day one of the most sensitive theological questions of Catholicism remains – what happens to the souls of unbaptized children? Gregory’s staunch position, in line with the teachings of St. Augustine, on the topic, led him to be referred to by his critics, unfortunately, as Infantium Tortor, or child torturer.

Augustine’s view on the fate of unbaptized souls, that they shared the common positive misery of the damned in hell, held sway in official church thinking from the time of the council of Carthage (418 A.D.), where the Pelagius heresy was condemned, roughly up until the time of St. Thomas Aquinas, who took a much more lenient approach (following on from the work of Peter Abelard), suggesting that the limbo in which unbaptized children necessarily found themselves was a place of eternal joy, while not paradise.

Gregory, though, rejected this lenient view, siding back with what had been the traditional church view point for centuries, and thus earned himself the unfortunate label

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