Juan Antonio Cebrián le dedicó un interesantísimo pasaje a Miguel Servet en la emisora de radio Onda Cero.
This edited article about medicine originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 421 published on 7 February 1970.
After a council in Geneva Calvin handed Servetus over to the Church Inquisition © Look and Learn
“STUDENT RIOT. MANY TAKEN TO HOSPITAL AFTER STREET FIGHTING.”
The above could be the headline in a recent newspaper. But, this simple statement refers to the year 1537, when medical students in Paris rebelled against the authorities who had just condemned a new book by a 26-year-old Spanish doctor named Michael Servetus. You may wonder, why this book aroused such strong feelings. The simple truth of the matter is that it was about nothing more serious than the preparation of medicines for the cure of stomach ache! But the doctors at the University, bound as they were to traditional remedies, saw fit to criticise it most severely.
Poor Michael Servetus! He was one of those men whose entire lives seem to be dedicated to stirring up trouble. His rebellion against authority started at the age of 17, when his father, who was a successful solicitor, sent him to the University of Toulouse to study law. Outwardly, he did study law, poring over his legal books with all the dedication of a budding advocate.
But in secret he busied himself with the Bible. His consuming interest, in fact, was religion at that time, not law.
As it was, his interest in religion increased until he could no longer restrain himself from writing a book attacking the organised Catholic Church, which he thought to be very wrong in a number of ways. So worded was this book however, that it attracted the anger of Catholics and Protestants alike. It was an anger which he did little to soothe by later publishing another book, this time concerning the geography of Judea. Again, being the honest and sincere man he was, he tried to be absolutely truthful in his description of the Holy Land. This, needless to say, hardly tallied with what the Bible had to say. Servetus, quite rightly, did not see the sacred country as “a land flowing with milk and honey.” On the contrary, he thought it really rather dry and barren. The Catholic authorities were furious and they promptly condemned him to death. There was only one thing to be done, and Servetus did it. He took to his heels, and fled to Paris.
The final act, brings us to the riots in Paris. The offending book on medicines had been published the year he arrived there. Not content with the trouble this had caused, however, in the following year, 1538, he wrote another book – about the influence of the stars on health. As far as the authorities were concerned, this was the last straw. Servetus was a real troublemaker and he must go. And go he did. But not before he had acquired an outstanding knowledge of anatomy, working alongside his famous contemporary, the Flemish anatomist, Andreas Vesalius.
The road Servetus took out of Paris was long and tortuous. It led him through Avignon, on to Charlieu, to the medical school at Montpellier, and finally, in 1541, to Vienna where he remained until his death, acting as private physician to the local archbishop who had been one of his medical students in Paris. All this time he was editing and writing books on science and religion.
The climax, and final revolt, came in 1553 when he published a book entitled Christianismi Restituto. Although this work was primarily concerned with religion, it contained an important and momentous passage about the manner in which human blood moves from one side of the heart, through the lungs for purifying, and then back into the other side. This was something startlingly new, the first faltering step towards a suggestion that the blood circulates rather than ebbs and flows, an idea that was prevalent at the time. It was a great scientific discovery, yet because the book was mainly about religion, it passed almost unheeded by the physicians of the time.
Unfortunately, though, it did not escape the notice of the Church authorities. On 4th April, 1553, Servetus was arrested as a heretic on their express instructions. Nonetheless, with the help of friends, he managed to escape from prison whilst his trial was actually in progress. He set out for Geneva where he hoped to enlist the support of the great religious reformer, John Calvin, with whom he had already had some correspondence. Calvin, however, found himself unable to reconcile the physician’s beliefs with his own and therefore turned Servetus over to the dreaded Church Inquisition, offering himself both as prosecutor and witness.
On 26th October, 1553, Servetus was found guilty of heresy against the Church and condemned, once more, to death. The following morning he was escorted to a little hill overlooking the peaceful lake of Geneva and there, in the presence of Calvin himself, he was burnt alive.
An excellent opera about Servetus has been ready for performance since three years ago. The current economic crisis, and the consequent restrictions of all kinds of official subventions, have made impossible to get support from the Spanish Ministry of Culture, the Arts Department of the Mayor of Madrid, the Regional Government of Aragón –where Servetus was born-, and several other financial and cultural institutions both public and private. Therefore, we believe that the time has arrived to involve in this enterprise all those persons who admire Servetus and his message of freedom of conscience and expression, so urgent in these times of fanaticisms and intolerances, so that his message may be disseminated as much as possible through such an efficient, though minority, medium as the opera is.
Servetus (unripe log) is an opera in two acts, of three and two scenes respectively, lasting about two hours and a quarter. The libretto, centered on the two trials suffered by Servetus, in Vienne of France and Geneva, Switzerland, was written by Ángel Alcalá, and the music by Valentín Ruiz. Alcalá, a native of Aragón, emeritus professor of the University of the City of New York (CUNY) and corresponding member of the Royal Academy of History in Madrid, is a well known scholar, mainly as historian, editor of Servetus’ Complete Works in his original Latin and their translator into Spanish in seven tomes (Zaragoza, 2003-2007). Valentín Ruiz taught for many years Harmony at the High Royal Conservatory, and Composition at the Conservatory “Teresa Berganza”, Madrid. He has written numerous works commissioned by the Prince of Asturias Foundation, the Center for the Diffusion of Contemporary Music, the International Music Festivals in Santander, Úbeda and Alicante, the National Orchestra and Choruses of Spain, the Cycles of Chamber Music and Polyphony at the National Institute of Scenic Arts and Music, the National Musical Festival in Texas, Houston, the 37th Week of Religious Music in Cuenca, the 37th international piano composition “Jaén Prize”, and the Culture Office of the Regional Government of Madrid.
Maestro Ruiz holds his own distinctive style, modern yet not modernist, through which he has succeeded in injecting to Alcalá’s verses an unforgettable force of evocation and excitement. Powerful choruses (the servants of bishop Palmier, with whom Servetus lived in Vienne, and the people of Geneva) not only open and close the opera, but, following the Hellenic fashion, take active part in it commenting and underlining the action; convenient arias and dialogues of the main characters (mainly Servetus, Calvin, Palmier, and two abstract ones: Truth and Freedom, who appear to Michael as in a dream) express with liveliness the sequences of the drama culminating in the tragedy that consumes in fire the independent thinker, while all together claim for the magnificent utopia: “ let Your kingdom come, a kingdom of justice and freedom, a kingdom of peace and solidarity”.
In order to make possible, whenever it be, the première of this fascinating opera the cooperation of all of us is necessary. We are going to produce a promotion disc with a selection of the choruses and main arias interpreted by distinguished Spanish professionals, with piano accompaniment only, even if this does not conveys the full idea of Valentín’s rich orchestration, and to hang it and the corresponding scores in the international web. We will offer the disc and these partial scores through Amazon, and the possibility of buying the complete one.
We will make an effort to collect the necessary funds to defray the costs of the mentioned disc production and to present the opera at least as concert, while waiting for some private sponsor whose generosity might make possible to present it in a complete theatrical performance, independently from the impotence or negligence of the officials responsible for the promotion of culture.
With this goal in mind, contributions in euros, dollars or other currencies can be sent, with the indication For the Servetus Opera, to the account of the Servetus International Society, number 2013 0220 33 02008 88484, at the bank Caixa Catalunya, Av. Mistral, 45-47, 08015 Barcelona, Spain, by all those interested in the project, in the amount allowed by their possibilities. We appeal to the generosity of the members of the Servetus International Society, of the Institute of Servetian Studies in Villanueva de Sijena (Servetus’ native town), of all world Unitarians, proud followers of some of his doctrines, of all the many admirers of him and his message, to make real this dream of his opera.
Madrid, on Michael Servetus´ birthday, September 29, 2012
Consuelo Patino de Ruiz-Parada.
Professor of Music, with intensive teaching experience,
musicologist specialized in the life and works of Chopin and Liszt.
For any further information and response to questions you may consult the following addresses:
Para los que os habéis pasado a la "era Kindle" o la era de los libros digitales, y además adoráis la historia que envuelve a Miguel Servetus, os recomendamos que por sólo 5,42 € os descarguéis en vuestro libro digital esta edición en inglés de Hunted Heretic: The Life and Death of Michael Servetus.
Part 2 of Dr. Karin Maag discussing the issues of Bolsec and Servetus as they relate to John Calvin. Video taken from the Baker Book House Forum titled, "John Calvin: His Life, Thought, and Relevance."
Dr. Karin Maag discusses the issues of Bolsec and Servetus as they relate to John Calvin. Video taken from the Baker Book House Forum titled, "John Calvin: His Life, Thought, and Relevance."
"Miguel Servet: cumbre del Renacimiento"
El curso se impartirá de los días 24 al 27 de Abril. Aprovecha la oportunidad porque merece la pena.
Día 24 - Los saberes científicos, astronómicos y geográficos. Alberto Galindo
Día 25 - Los saberes farmacológicos. Mariano Mateo
- Los saberes anatómicos y fisiológicos. José Antonio Gascón
Día 26 - Los saberes filosóficos. Jorge Ayala
- Los saberes teológicos. Luis Betés
Día 27 - Proyección y gloria de Miguel Servet. Fernando Solsona
- Presentación del libro: Vida, obra y persona de Miguel Servet, de Fernando Solsona.
19.00 horas. Sede del Ateneo de Zaragoza
Derechos de inscripción: 30 euros. Se entregará diploma.
Los inscritos serán obsequiados con el libro “Vida, obra y persona de Miguel Servet, cumbre del Renacimiento”, del Dr. F. Solsona.
500 años después del nacimiento de Miguel Servet, sale a la vente un libro en el que se analiza varios aspectos sobre su persona. Sergio Baches Opi y José María Urkia Etxabe han escrito el libro en cuestión. El primero analiza al Servet teólogo, y Urkia incide en los trabajos sobre medicina. La obra ha sido editada por el Colegio Oficial de Médicos de Gipuzkoa y la Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País.
Según comenta José María Urkia en el libro, «Servet fue profético, preparará las bases para que Harvey, un siglo más tarde, complete la fisiología de la circulación de la sangre, gracias a la medida y la experimentación. La obra del malogrado Servet no alcanzó la difusión necesaria. Valverde de Amusco (1556) y Colombo (1559) se encargarían de difundirla, silenciando a Servet, tal vez por miedo a la Inquisición» .
Sergio Baches comenta en el libro que «no se puede decir que Servet fuera 'antitrinitario'». Según Baches, Servet creía en la Trinidad, pero con una interpretación distinta a la que se estableció los concilios ecuménicos de Nicea y Constantinopla en el siglo IV. Sergio Baches opina que, «Servet no era un teólogo acomodado en las estructuras establecidas», sino «un místico con una cristología y una concepción de la religión tan humanas que desbordan los postulados, no sólo de la Iglesia romana, sino de las propias reformas protestantes no radicales».
“Hunted Heretic” has a new translation, in Italian. Fazi Editore has released the history of the life and death of Michael Servetus, 1511-1533 by Roland H. Bainton. This edition is based upon Peter Hughes' 2005 edition. The Italian historian Adriano Prosperi, specialized in Reform and Counter-reform, has written a new introduction for this edition. There is also a new epilogue discussing the authorship of Declaratio, (Declarationis Jesu Christi Filii Dei), traditionally attributed to Michael Servetus, probably wrongly.