Today commemorates the most noted of the bonfires of the vanities. This occurred on February 7, 1497 when followers of Savonarola publicly burned thousands of objects which they regarded as occasions for sin. These things included, unfortunately, not only cosmetics and mirrors, the "sinful" nature of which is obvious, but also music, musical instruments and works of other arts such as paintings and books.
Savonarola of Florence who lived from 1452 to 1498 was a preacher who was much concerned about the state of the Church and the clergy. He preached piety and clean living. It is said that he was the forerunner of the Reformation, but he was nonetheless Roman Catholic to the end. Pope Alexander VI was not pleased, and ordered the priest's execution for heresy and sedition. Savonarola was tortured for a month, then hanged and burned to death.
Just prior to the execution, the bishop said, "I separate you from the church militant and from the church triumphant."
Savonarola replied, "You have no power to separate me from the church triumphant to which I go."
Dr. Philip G. Ryken • Window on the World
Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia • May 23, 1999
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Google search "bonfire of the vanities savonarola" for many very interesting articles on this subject.