Bona, John

, an eminent cardinal of the church of Rome, and author of several derotional pieces, was born the 19th of October, 1609, at Mondovi, a little city in Piedmont, of a noble family. Having finished his first | studies with great success, he entered himself in a monastery of the order of St. Bernard near Pignerol in July 1625, when he was but fifteen years of age, and was professed there the 2d of August the year following, according to Bertolot, who wrote his Life; though Moroti, in “Cistercii reflorescentis Historia,” places this. in 1627. He was sent that year to Monte Grosso near Asti to study philosophy, and having passed through a course of it, he returned to Pignerol, where he applied himself to divinity without the assistance of any master for two years, and afterwards went to Rome to perfect himself in that science under a professor. Being ordained priest at the proper age, the sentiments of piety which had influenced him in his youth, and which appear through all his writings, were heightened and improved. He had been scarce three years in his course of divinity, when he was sent to Mondovi to teach it there. He had some reluctance against accepting of that post on account of his aversion to disputes; but obedience, which was the rule of all his actions, obliged him to submit to it. He was afterwards made prior of Asti; and eight months after he was nominated abbot of the monastery of St. Mark at Mondovi; but he was so importunate in his solicitations to the general of the congregation to be discharged from that office, that his request was granted. He was sent, therefore, to Turin, where he spent five years in collecting the materials for his book of Psalmody. He was afterwards appointed again prior of Asti, abbot of Mondovi, and general of his order in 1651. While he held the last post, he had occasion to speak with cardinal Fubio Chigf, who entertained a very great esteem for him, of which he afterwards gave him signal proofs. When the time of his being general of the order was expired, he left Rome, and returning to Mondovi in order to profess divinity, cardinal Chigi, who was chosen pope under the name of Alexander VII. appointed our author general of the order again of his own accord, the plague, which then raged in many parts of Italy, preventing any assembly of the general chapter. He made him afterwards consultor of the congregation of the index, and then qualificator of the sacred office; which place he resigned for that of consultor in the same court. The pope, who had a particular friendship for him, and made him his confident in all his secrets, would have raised him to the dignity of a cardinal, if the humility of Bona had not prevented him from accepting | it, and he had not made use of his interest with the pope in order to avoid it. But pope Clement IX. his successor, thought himself under an obligation to reward his virtues by making him a cardinal the 29th of November, according to Moroti, or of December, according to Bertolot, in 1669. Upon the death of this pope, cardinal Bona was proposed to be elected his successor; which gave occasion to this pasquinade, Papa Bona sarebbe solecismo, upon which father Daugieres, the Jesuit, wrote an ingenious epigram, which our Latin readers are aware will not bear a translation:

Grammaticæ leges plerumque ecclesia spernit:

Forte erit ut liceat dicere Papa Bona.

Vana solœcismi ne te conturbet imago;

Esset Papa bonus, si Bona Papa foret.

He died at Rome the 20th of October, according to Bertolot, or the 28th of that month, according to Moroti, in 1674, being seventy-four years of age. He directed himself, that he should be interred in the monastery of his own order, called St. Bernard at the Baths, with the following inscription upon his tomb: “D. O. M. Joannes Bona Pedemontanus, Congreg. Sancti Bernardi Monachus et hujus ecclesiae translate hue titulo S. Salvatoris in Lauro, Primus Presbyter Cardinalis, vivens sibi posuit.” Baillet, Labbe, and Sallo, bestow high praises on his principal work, “De Divina Psalmodia, deque variis ritibus omnium ecclesiarum in psallendis Divinis Officiis,Rome, 1663, 4to, which includes a complete history of church music, and lias been often celebrated and quoted by musical writers. Yet Dr. Burney, an authority of great importance in questions of this kind, informs us that he was constantly disappointed when he had recourse to it for information, as the author “never mounts to the origin of any use that has been made of music in the church, or acquaints us in what it consisted,” and appears to have profited very little by the information which at that time must have been within his reach. His other distinguished work was “Rerum Liturgicarum, Lib. duo,Rome, 1671, fol. and often reprinted. The best edition is that by Sala, printed at Turin, in 3 vols. 4to, 1747 1753. In 1755 Sala added another volume of Bona’s select epistles with those of his correspondents. The rest of his works are of the ascetic kind. He carried on a controversy for some time with | Mabillon concerning the consecration of leavened or unleavened bread. 1


Gen. Dict.—Moreri.—Fabroni Vitæ Italorum.—Baillet Jugemens des Savans—Burney’s Hist. of Music, vol. II.