("abbas modernus" or "recentior", "abbas Panormitanus" or "Siculus")
A Benedictine canonist, b. at Catania, Sicily, in 1386; d. at Palermo, 24 February, 1445. In 1400 he entered the Order of St. Benedict; he was sent (1405-6) to the University of Bologna to study under Zabarella ; in 1411 he became a doctor of canon law, and taught successively at Parma (1412-18), Siena (1419-30), and Bologna (1431-32). Meanwhile in 1425, he was made abbot of the monastery of Maniacio, near Messina, whence his name "Abbas", to which has been added "modernus" or "recentior" (in order to distinguish him from "Abbas antiquus", a thirteenth century canonist who died about 1288); he is also known as "Abbas Siculus" on account of his Sicilian origin. In 1433 he went to Rome where he exercised the functions of auditor of the Rota and Apostolic referendary. The following year he relinquished these offices and placed himself at the service of Alfonso of Castile, King of Sicily, obtaining the See of Palermo in 1435, whence his name "Panormitanus". During the troubles that marred the pontificate of Eugene IV, Nicolò at first followed the party of this pontiff but subsequently allied himself with the antipope Felix V who, in 1440, named him cardinal. In his "Tractatus de concilio Basileensi he upheld the doctrine of the superiority of a general council to the pope. It was his canonical works, especially his "Lectura in Decretales" "In Sextum", and "In Clementinas", that won him the title of "lucerna juris" (lamp of the law ) and insured him great authority; he also wrote "Consilia", "Quaestiones", "Repetitiones", "Disputationes, disceptationes et allegationes", and "Flores utriusque juris". A fine edition of his works appeared at Venice in 1477; among later, frequent editions, that published in 1617-18 (Venice) in 10 folio volumes is especially notable.
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