Joachim of Fiore

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Joachim of Fiore

(jō`əkĭm), c.1132–1202, Italian Cistercian monk. He was abbot of Corazzo, Italy, but withdrew into solitude. He left scriptural commentaries prophesying a new age. In his "Age of the Spirit" the hierarchy of the church would be unnecessary and infidels would unite with Christians. Joachim's works had a vogue in the 13th and the 14th cent.; many, especially the extremist Spiritual Franciscans, acclaimed him as a prophet. Dante places him in Paradise.


See study by D. C. West (1983).

Joachim of Fiore


Born circa 1132; died 1202. Italian thinker.

An ascetic and monk of the Cistercian order, Joachim was elected in 1177 to the position of abbot and in about 1191 founded the monastery of San Giovanni in Fiore as the center for a new religious community, hence his title.

He was the originator of a mystical-dialectical conception of the historical process that clearly expressed the great crisis of the medieval world view. This conception, developed as a symbolic interpretation of the Bible in such works as The Harmony of the New and Old Testaments (1519) and An Exposition of the Apocalypse (1527), was based on the division of all world history into three “states of the world,” or eras, corresponding to the three persons of the Christian trinity—the father, son, and holy spirit. During the Old Testament age of the father, god appeared to man as a powerful lord and man was subordinated to him like a fearful slave. In the New Testament age of the son this relationship had been changed into that of father and child. Finally, the approaching age of the holy spirit was to establish full intimacy between god and man. Each age allegedly passed through the same sequence of stages, which made possible deductions about the future based on past events. The age of the holy spirit was to begin about 1260. After a period of struggle and temptations, love of poverty and the principle of spiritual freedom would triumph. The powerful and pretentious church of Peter would then give way to the church of John, which would renounce the unnecessary burden of earthly power and be led by gentle, disinterested ascetics. The ambitious popes of the day would be replaced by an “angelic pope,” drawn from the common people. A literal understanding of the Bible would no longer be necessary but would be replaced by the proclamation of the “Eternal Gospel.” Finally, there was to be a reconciliation between Catholics and Orthodox, and even the Jews would find a place in this reborn universal community. The spirit of freedom, love, and peace would defeat violence and would even make its existence impossible. The transformation of mankind was to take place still in this world. It was this point that made Joachim’s teaching a link between ancient chiliasm and the plebeian heresies of the late Middle Ages.

The destiny of Joachim’s legacy in the late 13th and early 14th centuries was closely related to the Franciscan movement, which similarly espoused “holy poverty.” At the same time, there arose a vast body of pseudo-Joachimite literature. Dolcino, for example, transformed these teachings into a program for rebellion. Joachimite ideas later influenced Cola di Rienzi and, through him, the whole spirit of modern European political messianism. During the Reformation these ideas influenced the thinking of T. Münzer. One can also find echoes of Joachim’s point of view in later efforts to construct philosophic interpretations of history in the writings of G. Hegel, F. von Schelling, and especially the Russian religious philosopher V.S. Solov’ev.


Liber figurarum, 2nd ed., vols. 1–2. Turin, 1953.


Stam, S.M. “Uchenie Ioakhima Kalabriiskogo”. In Voprosy religii i ateizma, vol. 7. Moscow, 1959.
Grundmann, H. Studien über Joachim von Floris. Leipzig, 1927.
Grundmann, H. Neue Forschungen über Joachim von Fiore. Marburg, 1950.
Huck, J.C. Joachim von Floris und die Joachimitische Literatur. Freiburg, 1938.
Russo, F. Bibliografia gioachimita. Florence, 1954.


References in periodicals archive ?
Peter's Square in Vatican City and headed to a library to do research about Joachim of Fiore for his doctoral work on medieval studies when he thought he recognized the white-haired scholarly cardinal.
Drawing on the thought of Joachim of Fiore as appropriated by Franciscan radicals such as Peter John Olivi, the Spirituals saw themselves as playing a central role as the faithful remnant persecuted by Antichrist, and eventually as a source of eschatological redemption and renewal for the Church.
The most common reason for turning to such violent gestures of renunciation and self-immolation were expectations of the end of the world inspired by the teachings of Joachim of Fiore.
Thus we meet such thinkers as Origen, Jerome, and Augustine; Adso the Monk, Joachim of Fiore, Peter Olivi, John Wycllife, and the Hussites; Luther, Calvin, Anabaptists, English Puritans; Hal Lindsey and John Walvoord.
Victor, Joachim of Fiore, and Aquinas crosses the information gap about medieval views of the Trinity that result from many scholars ignoring important medieval contributions.
Dionisio's critiques followed the pattern of prophetic and apocalyptic thought, including that of Joachim of Fiore and Savonarola.
Italian abbot Joachim of Fiore (1135-1202) was the first to connect apocalyptic patterns in the Old and New Testaments.
He thus examines the saint's early biographies and his presence in a number of key writers among the Dominicans (Albert the Great, Aquinas, John of Paris), the Franciscans (Bonaventure, Alexander of Hales, Matthew of Aquasparta, Conrad of Saxony), and the Spiritual Franciscans Joachim of Fiore, Pietro di Giovanni Olivi, Ubertino da Casale).
A most important figure in the connection was Joachim of Fiore, a Calabrian abbot whom Dante placed in Paradise as one endowed with the prophetic spirit.
This was also true of the third movement, the millenarians, who could find inspiration within Italy either from the recent past, for example, Girolamo Savonarola, or from the Middle Ages, for example, Joachim of Fiore.
Hovering over Whalen's treatment of these apocalyptic themes is the prolific Franciscan monk and mystic Joachim of Fiore (1135-1202).
The title is taken from Revelations and is a setting by JancAek (an agnostic) of a 19th century text which features the medieval mystic Joachim of Fiore, here given a heroic but sometimes overwrought reading by tenor Adrian Thompson.