Ochinus, Bernardin

, a celebrated Italian, was born at Sienna in 1487, and first took the habit of a Cordelier; but throwing it off in a short time, and returning into the world, applied himself to the study of physic, and acquired the esteem of cardinal Julius de Medici, afterwards pope Clement VII. At length, changing his mind again, he resumed his monk’s habit, and embraced, in 1534, the reformed sect of the Capuchins. He practised, with a most rigorous exactness, all the rules of this order; which, being then in its infancy, he contributed so much to improve and enlarge, that some writers have called him the founder of it. It is certain he was made vicar-general of it, and became in the highest degree eminent for his talents in the pulpit. He delivered his sermons with great eloquence, success, and applause. His extraordinary merit procured him the favour of pope Paul III. who, it is said, made him his father-confessor and preacher; and he was thus the favourite of both prince and people, when, falling into the company of one John Valdes, a Spaniard, who had imbibed Luther’s doctrine in Germany, he became a proselyte. He was then at Naples, and began to preach in favour of protestant doctrines with so much boldness, that he was summoned to appear at Rome, and was in his way thither, when he met at Florence Peter Martyr, with whom, it is probable, he had contracted an acquaintance at Naples. This friend persuaded him not to put himself into the pope’s power; and they both agreed to withdraw into some place of safety. Ochinus went first to Ferrara, where he disguised himself in the habit of a soldier; and, proceeding thence to Geneva, arrived thither in 1542, and married at Lucca, whence he went to Augsburg, and published some sermons.

In 1547 he was invited, together with Peter Martyr, into England by abp. Cranmer, to have their joint assistance in carrying on the reformation. They arrived in December that year; and, repairing to Lambeth, were kindly received by Cranmer. They were entertained there for | some time along with Bucer, Fagius, and others; and Ochinus, as well as Martyr, was made a prebendary of Canterbury. He laboured heartily in the business of the Reformation; and his dialogue, upon the unjust usurped primacy of the bishop of Rome, was translated into Latin by Ponet, bishop of Winchester, and published in 1549. But, upon the death of Edward VI. being forced, as well as Martyr, to leave England, he retired to Strasburg with that friend, where they arrived in 1553. In his absence he was, among other persons who had preferments in Canterbury, declared contumacious. From Strasburg he went to Basil, and was called thence, in 1555, to Zurich, to be minister of an Italian church which was forming there. This church consisted of some refugees from Locarno, one of the four bailiwics which the Switzers possess in Italy, who were hindered from the public exercise of the reformed religion by the opposition of the popish cantons. Ochinus made no difficulty to subscribe the articles of faith agreed upon by the church of Zurich, and governed this Italian church till 1563; when he was banished thence by the magistrates of the town, on account of some dialogues he published, in which he maintained the doctrine of polygamy. He is said to have been prompted to this by the infidelity of his wife. From Zurich, he went to Basil; but, not being suffered to stay there, he fled in great distress into Moravia, where he fell in with the Socinians, and joined them. Stanislaus Lubienietski, the great patron of this sect, gives the following account of his last days, in his “Hist. Reformat. Polori.” Ochinus, says he, retired into Moravia, and into Poland, and even there he was not out of the reach of Calvin’s letters. He returned into Moravia, after king Sigismund’s edict; who, in!564, punished with banishment all those that were called Tritheists, Atheists, &c. Some gentlemen endeavoured to keep him in Poland; but he answered, that men must obey the magistrates, and that he would obey them, even were he to die among the wolves in the woods. During his travels, he fell sick of the plague at Pincksow, and received there all possible offices of kindness from one of the brethren, named Philippovius. His daughter and two sons, whom he carried along with him, died of the plague; but he had buried his wife before he had left Zurich. As for himself, he continued his journey to Moravia, and within three weeks died at Slakow, in 1564, aged 77. | His character is variously represented by different authors, and certainly appears not to have been very consistent. Bayle observes, that the confession he made publicly, on the change of his religion, is remarkable. He acknowledged, in a preface, that, if he could have continued, without danger of his life, to preach the truth, after the manner he had preached it for some years, he would never have laid down the habit of his order; but, as he did not find within himself that courage which is requisite to undergo martyrdom, he took sanctuary in England, where he probably might have remained in reputation, had not the reformation been disturbed on the accession of Mary. Abroad, after he had given offence to the Catvinists, the Socinians afforded him some protection for a while, but even to them he became obnoxious, and at last sunk into a species of heresy which the boasted charity of Socinianism itself could not tolerate. They class him, however, among their writers, as appears by Sandius’s “Bibl. Anti-trinitariorum.” His writings are rather numerous than bulky. Besides the “Dialogues,” there are “Italian Sermons,” in 4 vols. printed 1543; an “Italian. Letter to the Lords of Sienna, containing an Account of his Faith and Doctrine;” another, “Letter to Mutio of Justinopolis, containing the reason of his departure from Italy;” “Sermons upon St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians,” in Italian; “An Exposition of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans,” in Italian; “Apologues against the abuses, errors, &c. of the Papal Synagogue, their Priests, Monks, &c.” in Italian, and translated into Latin by Castalio as were his “Dialogues,” &c. &c. which last, it may be mentioned, were answered by Beza. 1


Gen. Dict. —Moreri. —Strype’s Life of Cranmer.