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Del Rio, Martin Antoine (1551-1608)

This famous Jesuit scholar was considered an authority on witchcraft during the 16th century in Europe. He was born in Antwerp of a distinguished Spanish family. He studied classical literature, and works of Hebrew and Chaldean, and in other languages as well. At the age of nineteen he published an edition of Seneca, and became Vice-Chancellor and Attorney General of Brabant by 24.

In 1580 he entered the Jesuit order teaching at different Jesuit centers while gathering material for his work Disquisitionum Magicarum Libri Sex published in 1599. This encyclopedic work discussed magic, alchemy, witchcraft, prophecy, and apparitions, and gave instructions for judges conducting the witchcraft trials. The work revived the intolerance of the sinister Malleus Maleficarum of Jakob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer (1486).

Although Del Rio was a very educated man, his influential work was a monument of credulity and intolerance. His intelligence was not tempered with love and kindness toward humanity. A.G.H.

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