'Sancte fidei omnino deiciar’: Ugolino dei Conti di Segni's Doubts and Jacques de Vitry's Intervention
journal contributionposted on 23.01.2018, 11:54 by Jan Vandeburie
Thomas de Cantimpré, in his Supplementum to Jacques de Vitry’s Vita of Marie d’Oignies, provides us with an account of how Cardinal Ugolino dei Conti di Segni, the future Pope Gregory IX, was struggling with his faith. At this decisive moment in Ugolino’s career, the illustrious preacher and Bishop of Acre, Jacques de Vitry, made an appearance at the curia while away from his episcopal see. To combat Ugolino’s doubt with a saintly intercession, Jacques presented him with the relic of Marie d’Oignies’s finger, which he kept around his neck and had protected him on several occasions. This well-known anecdote has not yet received any comprehensive attention and this essay seeks to analyze as well as contextualize the account of Jacques de Vitry’s intervention. By shedding light on the role of Marie d’Oignies and her finger relic and on the meaning of the ‘spirit of blasphemy’ plaguing Ugolino, I will argue that the anecdote not only gives us a glimpse of the nature of the cardinal’s spiritual concerns but also reflects Thomas de Cantimpré’s efforts to promote both Jacques de Vitry’s influence on Gregory IX and the reputation of Marie d’Oignies.