Fra Luigi Sinistrari on Lewdness

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GAY PENITENTS would have found Fra Luigi Sinistrari an understanding confessor, in spite of all that scary talk about torture and flogging and burning at the stake. When you get past the fierce rhetoric of the Inquisition, you find a childlike innocence and the gentle spirit of Saint Francis. It runs contrary to stereotype, but Fra Luigi was a kindly old inquisitor.

The Reverend Father Ludovicus (Luigi) Maria Sinistrari de Ameno is the author of the theological classic Demoniality, which explains that the world is populated by ethereal beings who frequently appear to mortals, seeking sexual favors from them. The part of Fra Luigi’s work that deals with demoniality has attracted considerable attention. Recently I did an Internet search for “Sinistrari” and got 224 hits. About half were devoted to the topic of “sex with the Devil,” with the others clustering around the topic of “sex with aliens from outer space.”

But some of Fra Luigi’s treatises dealt with more earthly concerns. Two of his major works are Lewdness, which I have translated for the first time from the Latin and published recently, and Peccatum Mutum (The Mute Sin, Alias Sodomy), which was fiSt Francis inititialrst published in English in 1893. You might expect Peccatum Mutum to be about homosexuality, but instead it is Lewdness that has more to say about same-sex sexual behavior.

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