Podcast about him here:
Giovanni da Correggio, also Giovanni Mercurio is a little out there. Great story. The time frame is around 1450. Hard to say exactly. He was the bastard son of Antonio da Correggio, who lived until 1474, and his pupil, Lodovico Lazzarelli lived from 1447 to 1500.
Anyway, story time. Told to us by Lazzarelli. It’s Palm Sunday in Rome, 1484. All dressed to the nines and with four servants in tow he rides through Rome. Once out of the city he changes out of his nice clothes and gets into some blood-stained linen and a crown of thorns (remember it’s Palm Sunday). He had a crescent moon shaped silver-plated disk above his head saying he was God’s or Jesus’ servant Primander. And get’s on a white donkey and heads back towards Rome. His servants are all around him on horseback.
He rides toward the Vatican, stopping here and there to proclaim the coming judgement, while saying he’s “Giovanni Mercurio da Corregio, the Angel of Wismdom Primander.” The timing is perfect and this is just as people are leaving the churches from Palm Sunday mass, in which they received palm branched. Since it’s Easter and all, the church goers start to follow him through the streets, greatly increasing the intended parallel with Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem.
According to Lazzarelli the guards at St. Peter got out of his way, allowing him to enter, even though the church was still full of people – including the high church officials. Correggio gets of his donkey, walks to the altar, offers up his mystical apparel and a paper called “The Eternal Gospel,” prayed to God and left St. Peter’s.
Another contemporary author, a Jewish man named Abraham Farissol writes that at one time Correggio was imprisoned in Rome; and although Lazzarelli wrote that he entered and left St. Peter’s unmolested, some find this hard to believe.
It is more likely that he was arrested on the spot and never made it to the altar. In any case he’s said to have escaped from prison and escaped with his devotees, only to be imprisioned in Bologna on suspicion of heresy. He was released though. Perhaps a silver moon above dressing like Christ isn’t heretical enough.
In any case, two years later, in 1486 he made another similar appearance in Florence on his way to Naples. He was on his way to the court of King Ferdinand I in Naples, but it’s unclear if he ever made it.
In Florence he was arrested on account of Lorenzo il Magnifico and was harrassed by a Franciscan inquisitor. Eventually he was released when King Ferdinand arranged it.
Seemly unable to learn a lesson, he again returned to Rome in 1492 with a bunch of groupies, calling himself “the younger Hermes.” And in 1497 he preached in Venice. 1499 saw him pass through Cesena dressed in sackcloth accompanied by his entire household, including wife and 5 kids, on his way to Milan.
In 1501 he traveled in a similar manner to Lyons where he was granted an audience with King Louis XII whom he impressed with promises of alchemical and magical secrets.
Later Correggio appeared in Rome again, where he claimed to have found an alchemical cureagainst the plague.
Correggio managed to have his work printed in later life when he and his family were no more than beggars.
A short oration printed in the form of a cross warned against “Barbarians, the Turcs, and the Scyths.” And then De Quercu, which is addressed to Pope Julius II (Giuliano della Rovere), who reigned as pope from 1503 to 1513. It’s been noted that “Della Rovere” means “Of the Oak,” –and the oak was in Julius’ coat of arms – gave Correggio a metaphor for his text; comparing a strong oak to the Pope.
The text contains things like ‘trismegistical’ and ‘mercurial’ and compared things to a phoenix (referring to Hermes Trismegistus and alchemy.) Some quotes:
phoenix “descends from heaven to earth by the way of putrefaction and resolution, separation and purification,”
and how by being burned it returns to the primary and primordial nature of the world and its quintessence, the chaos, hyle, pure, informal and universal matter of nature, from which it had come before. It returns to the genus of genuses, to the form of forms,and to the general seed of all of the world. Which is also called world-spirit, the end of the egg and the great and triple stone, that is to say mineral, vegetable, and animal, which is a stone and no stone, is found in any place and in each and any man, in every thing; which is held by both the rich and poor, and can be changed into every colour or into any nature or complexion with which this stone is brought in conjunction.
Speaking of the first matter… then you would build the burnt stuff back up into living matter based on Aristotelian science: the philosopher’s stone: the fifth essence.
Some more impressions from reading his text:
It can turn imperfect metals into perfect gold and silver.
•It can turn crystal and common glass into precious stones and gems, and can also produce a special kind of flexible and malleable glass.
•It can turn pearls, gems and gold into a “most precious and potable liquor” or universal medicine.
•It can cause trees to give fruit twelve times a year.•It can turn an ordinary apple tree into a “tree of life.”
•It can cure all diseases, restore a man to perfect health and youth, and can even call a man back from the very threshold of death (as long as God permits it).
•It makes man immune to heat or cold, and permits him to live without need of ordinary food, drink, or sleep.
•By means of it one can attract any beneficial constellation and influence from the stars.
•It is a means of finding hidden treasures, and acquiring perfect knowledge of occult mysteries, “as well as every art, and to learn and know all things hidden and yet unknown,” that is to say, it bestows the gift of prophecy.
•It allows a person to “be anywhere at will, by one’s own strength and in a natural way.
And finally, by means of it the Pope will “break, chase away and instantly exterminate the armies and powers of the Turks, the Mohammedans and all Pagan nations, without need of weaponry and without a great army.
All this is done not “as something miraculous and against the course of nature, or through spells and by magicalor kabbalistical art”; on the contrary, it is done “on the basis of nature, and by nature and through nature.”
Nevertheless, he continues in the next chapter to emphasize, with a nod to Hermes, that the substance also “perfects man beyond and above nature,”
and that Julius will gain superhuman knowledge and power
…you will know the things of the past and you will also have knowledge of the future. You will know the subtleties of words and the solutions of arguments. You will know the signs and portents before they occur, and the outcomes of times and centuries. The mutations of vicissitudes and changes of customs, the courses of the year, the dispositions of the stars,the virtues of the elements, the properties of stones, the various powers of shoots, the virtues of roots, the natures of the animals and the wrath of wild beasts, the force of the winds and the thoughts of men. And all things that are hidden and unforeseen you will thoroughly learn, with Solomon himself….Therefore all obscurity will flee from you, all your darkness will be illuminated as at midday. And you too will conquer all the hosts of pagans and Turks, not in strength of body, nor in might of armour, but…with the word, the spirit and the rod of virtue.
De Quercu may have been written to the pope as a plea to help his family out of poverty.