Monday, November 30, 2009

Update on Salvation

One of the people who commented on my posting over at LA Moms Blog brought up the biblical Acts of the Apostles and the term simony. I have found it immensely clarifying and thought you might, too.

Simony is the ecclesiastical crime of paying for holy offices or positions in the hierarchy of a church, named after Simon Magus, who appears in the Acts of the Apostles 8:18-24. Simon Magus offers the disciples of JesusPeter and John payment so that anyone he would place his hands on would receive the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the origin of the term simony[1] but it also extends to other forms of trafficking for money in "spiritual things".[2][3] Simony was also one of the important issues during the Investiture Controversy.

The great Italian poet Dante Alighieri consigned simonists to the eighth circle of hell. In the above copy of a wood engraving by Gustave Dore, Dante visits Pope Nicholas III, who has been buried upside-down in the inferno for committing simony.

I love this stuff.


  1. The villain of the novel I'm working on, believes he's a reincarnation of Simon Magus, who may have believed he was God:

    a certain Samaritan, Simon, who came from a village called Gitta; who in the reign of Claudius Caesar wrought magic wonders by the art of daemons who possessed him, and was considered a god in your imperial city of Rome, and as a god was honoured with a statue by you, which statue was erected in the River Tiber, between the two bridges, with the following inscription in Roman: "Simoni Deo Sancto." And nearly all the Samaritans, but few among the rest of the nations, confess him to be the first god and worship him. And they speak of a certain Helen, who went round with him at that time, and who had formerly prostituted herself [literally, stood on a roof], but was made by him his first Thought.

    Justin Martyr, Apologia I, 26 (c. A.D. 138)

    The statue turned out to be honoring a Sabine half-man/half-god (“Semone Sanco Deo Fidio.”

  2. Your image caught my eye. I grew up leafing through an oversize Divina Commedia with illustrations by Dore. And I bought my boys an adventure book built around some of Dore's illustrations which they loved (I'm hoping to post about it soon).

  3. That is fascinating. Thanks for posting. There's a joke in there about "Simonizing" cars, but that's probably dating myself - lol

  4. Simony -- awesome. Can't wait to use that! (Would be better if it didn't exist, of course)



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