Joachim of Flora´s Process of Beatification Begins

A Controversial Figure of the Church

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COSENZA, Italy, JUNE 28, 2001 ( Joachim of Flora, one of the most exciting and controversial figures in the Church history, could be on the road to being proclaimed a saint.

At the eighth centenary of his death approaches, March 30, 2002, Archbishop Giuseppe Agostino of Cosenza has introduced his cause of beatification, and appointed Franciscan Father Paolo Lombardo as postulator.

When introducing the canonical cause, the archbishop wrote that Joachim´s greatness «cannot be reduced to that of an outstanding scholar or researcher, but to his adherence to the faith, understood and expressed ascetically.»

The monk´s process of canonization was interrupted because of the suspicious doctrines of some of his followers, the Joachists or Pseudo-Joachists.

His fame for sanctity «has been preserved in time, so much so that the people of God have always called him ´Blessed Joachim,´» Archbishop Agostino clarifies. As early as 1346 there was a move to begin the canonical process, though it is not known why the intention «came to nothing.»

Joachim was born in Colico, near Cosenza, around 1130. Following a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he entered the Cistercian Order around 1152-1153. He had a special interest in Scripture studies. Because of this, he retired to a solitary place in San Giovanni in Flora, or Fiore, and later founded an abbey in the place that would give his branch of the order its name.

Joachim had an eschatological vision, according to which history is divided in three phases: the age of the Father (that of the Old Testament), the age of the Son (lived by the Church after Christ´s resurrection), and the age of the Spirit, which has already begun and should culminate with the affirmation of monastic spirituality over traditional ecclesiastical structures.

This view had marked influence on ascetic movements at the end of the Middle Ages, particularly on spiritual and Apocalyptic currents, and even on some Franciscans.

It also influenced Abbot Pietro of Morrone, who was elected Pope in 1294 and took the name Celestine V. After five months as Pontiff, Celestine V resigned, because this eschatological view made him afraid of being corrupted if he remained in the governance of the Church.

The doctrines promoted by Joachim´s followers were condemned in the fourth Lateran Council (1215) and the Council of Arles (1260).

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