COVID-19: Updates on library services and operations.

Heavenly supper : the story of Maria Janis /
Fulvio Tomizza ; translated by Anne Jacobson Schutte.
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1991.
xix, 175 p.
More Details
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1991.
general note
Translation of: La finzione di Maria.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1991-11-01:
At the time of her trial before the Venetian Inquisition, Maria Janis, a devout peasant, claimed that for five years she had eaten nothing but the consecrated wafer and wine of communion. Her faith in God had sustained her in this sacred fast. In the first of his novels to be translated, Tomizza, winner of Italy's coveted Premio Strega, has re-created 17th-century Italy. Drawing on the testimony of the relatives, friends, and neighbors of Maria and her codefendant, the priest Pietro Morali, Tomizza portrays the conflict between the simple faith of the devout and the controlled religiosity of the Counter-Reformation. From the nosy neighbors who betray Maria to the pious blind count, hoping for a miraculous cure, the book teems with life in its fascinating account of holy anorexia. For large fiction collections.-- Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, Kan. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1991-11-08:
In his first book to appear in English, Italian writer Tomizza presents a probing, engrossing, scholarly account of 17th-century spirituality, mysticism, duplicity, crime and punishment during the Venetian Inquisition. Maria Janis, a peasant from the hill country, was observed receiving communion outside of a church. This ``sacrilege'' was reported to the authorities, and she and the priest who administered the sacrament to her were arrested. Supposedly, the bread Janis received in communion was all that she allowed herself to eat each day, and she claimed that she had observed this fast for five years, having renounced all other food as a religious sacrifice. The church tribunal sentenced Father Morali to prison for five years for the crime of consecrating and administering the host outside the confines of a church. Janis, who admitted that her fast was a hoax, was imprisoned for her ``pretense of sanctity,'' then transferred, at her request, to ``the pious establishment of the Mendicanti.'' Tomizza becomes the champion that Janis, who lived in an era of ``religious emulation rather than of authentic mystical fervor,'' lacked; he finds her not ``a shabby impostor'' but, instead, ``a climber on the ladder to paradise.'' (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, October 1991
Library Journal, November 1991
Publishers Weekly, November 1991
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Main Description
It is a winter morning in Venice, in 1622. Muted voices drift through a thin wall next door. Her curiosity aroused, a young woman peers through a crack in the door, only to witness a strange and disturbing sight: a woman and a priest secretly celebrating communion. Troubled by what she sees, she reports the incident at confession. Her revelation leads to the arrest, jailing, and arraignment of the two for heresy before the Venetian Holy Office of the Inquisition. So begins Fulvio Tomizza's absorbing account of the true story of Maria Janis, a devout peasant woman from the mountains north of Bergamo. Too poor to enter a convent, Maria had set out to serve God by relinquishing the little she had, through renunciation of all food but the bread and wine of communion. Encouraged by the restless village priest Pietro Morali, Maria claimed to have existed in this sanctified state for five years. During this time, she, Morali, and the weaver Pietro Palazzi travel from a little village in the Alps to Rome and then to Venice, where their alleged sacrilege is discovered and they are brought to trial. Both revered as a saint and reviled as a fraud, Maria with her "privilege" inspires and threatens believers within the Church. Combining the historian's precision with the novelist's imagination, Tomizza painstakingly reconstructs her story, crafting a fascinating portrait of sublimated love, ambition, and jealousy. Heavenly Supper alternates a chronological account of the trial with analyses of each protagonist's life history. Along the way, Tomizza gives voice to the minds and hearts of his characters, allowing them to speak for themselves in their own words. The world he recreates resonates with the fervor of the Counter Reformation when faith and its consequences were rigidly controlled by the Church. As suspenseful as a detective novel, Tomizza's story goes beyond the trial to evoke a panoramic view of seventeenth-century Italian culture.
Table of Contents
Note on the Translation
The End of a Journey
The Crack in the Door
My Name Is Maria Janis
The Heavenly Supper
Salami and the Counter Reformation
The Third Man
Without Remorse
The Sea of Love
The Bergamasque Colony
Maria Takes Flight
The Model Parishioner
The Voluntary Novitiate
Communion as a Drug
The Golden Phase
The Bishop Who Became a Saint
The Good Priests
The Rich Man Pays a Visit
The Beginning of a Journey
Maria's Family
The Forced Capitulation
The Devil's Road
The Mad Proposal
The Third Man Goes to Prison
Together for the Last Time
Afterword: Encounter with a Manuscript
Appendix: Seventeenth-Century Money
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem