Online School Of Pastoral Ministry

“Justice, Mercy, Conversion”: Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed

Alessandro Manzoni, The Betrothed,
transcription by Michael F. Moore,
Modern Library, New York, 2022

Six Tuesdays from 7 PM. to 8:30 PM, Beginning Tuesday, November 7, 2023

The Betrothed (Italian: I promessi sposi [i proˈmessi ˈspɔːzi]) is an Italian historical novel by Alessandro Manzoni, first published in 1827, in three volumes, and significantly revised and rewritten until the definitive version published between 1840 and 1842. It has been called the most famous and widely read novel in the Italian language.[1]

Set in the Duchy of Milan in 1628, during the years of Spanish rule, the novel is also noted for its extraordinary description of the plague that struck Milan around 1630.

The novel deals with a variety of themes, for example: the illusory nature of political power and the inherent injustice of any legal system; the range of character among the Christian clergy from the cowardice of the parish priest Don Abbondio to the heroic sanctity of others (the friar Padre Cristoforo, the cardinal Federico Borromeo); and the unwavering strength of love (the relationship between Renzo and Lucia, and their struggle to finally meet again and be married). The novel is renowned for offering keen insights into the meanderings of the human mind.

About The Course

“Justice, Mercy, Conversion”:
Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed

Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873) was the author of sacred hymns, poems, tragedies, and treatises, but is best known for his 19th-century work I promessi sposi (“The Betrothed”), an historical novel set in 17th-century Lombardy that recounts the trials and tribulations of two young lovers, Renzo and Lucia. Their quest to be married unfolds amidst the backdrop of twin calamities, one human, the other natural: the European wars of succession and the plague that killed up to an astounding 70% of milanesi in a single year between 1629-1630. Pope Francis has encouraged all engaged couples to read the novel, and the great composer Giuseppe Verdi revered and even venerated Manzoni so much that his famous Requiem commemorates the author’s death. Such was the power that the Catholic Manzoni exerted, especially on those dedicated to the project of Italian unification, that Verdi–a notorious free-thinker and agnostic, atheist even–called him “l’unico Santo del mio calendario” (‘the only saint on my calendar’). In an 1867 letter, he commented on the novel’s embodiment of truth:
I was sixteen years old when I first read I promessi sposi. […] [M]y enthusiasm is still the same; indeed, since I have come to know men better, it has become even greater. The fact is that this is a true book, as true as Truth itself.

Class Schedule

Every Tuesday from 7 PM. to 8:30 PM, Beginning Tuesday, November 7, join us for a six-part seminar as we explore Alessandro Manzoni’s overpowering tale of justice, mercy, redemption, forgiveness,  and conversion. The text will be Michael F. Moore’s beautiful new English translation, just published by Modern Library.

  • 11/07/2023 (7 PM. to 8:30 PM) – Lesson One: Introduction to Alessandro Manzoni, The Betrothed (Introduction, Chapters 1-3)
  • 11/14/2023 (7 PM. to 8:30 PM) – Lesson Two: The Betrothed (Chapters 4-10)
  • 11/21/2023 (7 PM. to 8:30 PM) – Lesson Three: The Betrothed (Chapters 11-18)
  • 11/28/2023 (7 PM. to 8:30 PM) – Lesson Four: The Betrothed (Chapters 19-25)
  • 12/05/2023 (7 PM. to 8:30 PM) – Lesson Five: The Betrothed (Chapters 26-33)
  • 12/12/2023 (7 PM. to 8:30 PM) – Lesson Six: The Betrothed (Chapters 34-38)

About the Professor:
Anthony Nussmeier

Professor Nussmeier is Associate Professor of Italian and Director of Italian at the University of Dallas, where he teaches courses ranging from beginning Italian language to senior seminars.

Dr. Nussmeier is Contributing Editor for The Year’s Work in Modern Language Studies and Co-Editor and Book-Review Editor (Medieval, English-Language) of Annali d’Italianistica. He lectures frequently on Italian topics, and has made radio, podcast, and even television appearances on EWTN as part of UD-produced program The Quest. He teaches Manzoni’s Promessi sposi, in Italian, almost every year.

Dr. Nussmeier previously taught a course on Dante for the Archdiocese in 2022.

Register Here

"*" indicates required fields

We’d be very grateful if you would donate what you can to help keep this program going. We will turn down no one due to financial need. Your support helps us make these classes more accessible to more people. If you can’t afford to make a donation, just email Deacon Fred Totah at [email protected] and let him know you’d like a scholarship. No one will be turned down. No questions will be asked.

Donation Amount*
Please choose your donation (please be generous so we can liberally give scholarships out to those who need them):