St Maximus the Greek (c. 1470–1556): Among Manuscripts, Books and Libraries in Early Renaissance
The biography of St Maxim the Greek (born as Michael Trivolis c. 1470, Arta, died as Maximus the Greek – Максим Грек – in 1556, Moscow) represents the typical love of knowledge which guided an Early Renaissance individual. Although Michael Trivolis, who gained rich intellectual experience in northern Italy, was later unjustly condemned in Moscow Russia at two Church trials (1525, 1531), his literary activity testifies to his spiritual ascent. As a student of Ianos Laskaris, a philologist and translator from Greek into Latin, and as a co-worker of Aldo Manuzio at his print shop in Venice, Michael Trivolis acquired knowledge on manuscripts, incunabula and the technique of transferring human handwriting into printed form. Yet this great thinker, who taught Greek to the nephew of the famous Pico at the Mirandola castle, found his peace of mind only on the Holy Mount Athos, in the monastery of Vatopedion, where he took monastic vows and the name of Maximus. There he continued with his work on manuscripts and books, building up his prayer oeuvre. At the request of the Russian Grand Duke Vasili the Third for a translator from Athos, he travelled to Moscow in 1518, soon to be falsely accused of heretical errors in translation and sentenced almost to life imprisonment. During detention in monastic dungeons he wrote a large number of personal records, preserved in manuscript. His creativity emerges particularly clearly in his literary activity. He died in 1556, appreciated and respected. Even in his lifetime he was recognised as a saint, although it was as late as 1988 that he was officially canonised by the Russian Orthodox Church.
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