About Baldo Lupetina
“Tonight I wish to speak to you about another man from Labin, about Baldo Lupetino, a true man from the town of Labin. There are not many works he wrote, but those few things that he wrote and said, and those scarce sources about him, […] these things have such great, such historic significance, they are so generally human that it is possible that there are no better things said than that.”
Quote from the lecture by Mijo Mirković held in Labin in March 1962.
Baldo Lupetino (Lupetina), was born into a noble family in Labin in 1502 (according to some sources in 1492). He had one sister named Ivana who married Luciano Luciani in 1537. Luciani’s sister was Jakoba, and she was the mother of Matija Franković Vlačić (Matthias Francovich Vlacich / Flacius).
Baldo became a friar when he was 31 or 33 years old (in 1533, or in 1535, according to other sources) in the Franciscan Monastery in Lower Labin. He made good progress, so he became a guardian and then a provincial at the Monastery of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice. Baldo had a crucial influence on Flacius: in 1539, after staying in Venice, Flacius continued his studies in Germany at Baldo’s persuasion and he definitely embraced Lutheranism there.
During Lent in 1541, in the sermons Lupetina held on the Island of Cres and influenced by Protestant ideas, he “…advocated the doctrine of predestination, denied the existence of purgatory and free will, and he believed that Christ redeemed us completely, so that our good deeds are unnecessary.” Jacopo Curzolo, a friar from Cres, reported Baldo to the Inquisition for heresy, so he was arrested on 4 December 1542 and then imprisoned in Venice. In 1543, young Flacius came from Germany to Venice with a letter from the Duke Elector of Saxony, John Friedrich (1532-1547) addressing the Venetian Duke Pietro Lando (1539-1545) and the Senate, imploring them to release Baldo. This letter was also signed by German princes who were a part of the Protestant (the so-called Schmalkaldic) League. Rich German traders sent money to help Baldo and even Caspar von Schwenckfeld stood up for him. Baldo received his monetary support from his sister Ivana and brother-in-law Luciano and he also obtained his food with the help of a “Schiavona” (a Slavic woman). Flacius did not succeed in his efforts: he was only allowed to visit the prisoner and to report this matter to the Senate. At his first trial in 1543, Baldo was sentenced to life imprisonment and to a fine of 100 golden coins.
Since he did not want to abandon his ideas, Baldo was sent to trial again in 1547. In that same year, on 27 October, he was sentenced to death by the Inquisition, and the punishment was to be executed by burning him at the stake on St. Mark’s Square, while his ashes were to be scattered all over the sea. However, this punishment was not carried out as the Duke changed the sentence again to life imprisonment, hoping that Baldo would give up “his misconceptions”. In November 1547, Alvise Lippomano, who was appointed bishop of Verona, wrote about Baldo that “he is the greatest Lutheran in the world, who is capable of winning over new supporters even in prison”. In 1549, the former Bishop of Koper, Slovenia, Pietro Paolo Vergerio expressed his high opinions of friar Baldo, and he was even more sure about this in 1554. In 1552, the Duchess of Ferrara and the daughter of the French king Louis XII, Renata, tried to intervene in Lupetino’s favour, but because of this Baldo ended up in strict imprisonment and was forced to live on bread and water only. Vergerio persuaded the German Duke Christoph of Württermberg (1550-1568) to intervene in Baldo’s favour, but this produced no results. Again in 1555, the Duke of Württemberg intervened in Baldo’s favour at the request of Vergerio, by turning to Duke Francesco Valieri (1554-1556), but this attempt also proved to be fruitless.
Friar Baldo went to trial for the third time in 1556 and in that same year, on 30 August, he was sentenced to death by drowning and he was deprived of the rank of priest. On 17 September 1556, Baldo was officially defrocked and the verdict was executed immediately afterwards, most probably in the night between 17 and 18 September 1556.
Baldo Lupetina is an example of a firm, persistent and tenacious man who was always aware of the danger and ready to give his life for his ideals.