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Thought by many to be a convert from Judaism, Alphonso de Spina was for many years superior of the House of Studies of the Friars Minor at Salamanca, and in 1491 was created Bishop of Thermopylae in Greece. Recent scholarship suggests that Alphonso was not a converted Jew or converso. He was a man of great learning and attained considerable renown as a preacher, but his chief claim to fame is as the author of Fortalitium Fidei, sometimes just called the Fortalitium.
The Fortalitium was written in 1458, but it was added to by de Spina at different times up to the year 1485. The first edition was issued about 1464-76; the edition published at Nuremberg in 1485 begins thus:
|“||Incipit prohemium Fortalitii Fidei conscriptum per quendam Doctorem eximium ordinis minorum anno MCCCCLIX in partibus occidentis (Here begins the introduction to "Fortalitium Fidei" (Stronger Faith) written by a certain distinguished teacher of the Order of Friars Minor in the year 1459).||”|
The fact that the Fortalitium appeared anonymously gave rise to some difference of opinion as to its authorship. However, most modern scholars attribute it to Alfonso de Spina. The Fortalitium Fidei is a treatise on various types of arguments to be used by preachers and others to oppose detractors of Catholicism. It is divided into five books: the first directed against those who deny the divinity of Jesus Christ; the second against "heretics"; the third against the Jews; the fourth, against Muslims; and the fifth gives instructions on the battle against the devil. In this last book de Spina dwells at length upon the demons and their hatred of men; the powers they have over men and the diminution of these powers, owing to the victory of Christ on the Cross, the final condition of the demons, and so on.
Besides the "Fortalitium", Alfonso de Spina published at least three other works:
- Sermones de Nomine Jesu Vigintiduos, issued about 1454 (which has been erroneously confounded with the Fortalitium by at least one noted Catholic scholar);
- Sermones plures de excellentia nostræ fidei, preached in 1459; and
- A treatise on fortune, dedicated to John I of Castile (1404-54).
- ↑ Steven J. McMichael, Was Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah? Alphonso de Espina's Argument against the Jews in the Fortalitium Fidei (c. 1464) (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1994).
- This article incorporates text from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain.
- Catholic Encyclopedia article on Alphonso de Spina
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