Bonfire of the Vanities: Saving Souls From Sins?

On February 7, 1497, the followers of Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola of Florence, Italy, gathered and burned a large quantity of objects they referred to as “vanities,” objects such as cosmetics, books, artwork, mirrors, fancy clothes, playing cards, and musical instruments, any objects these religious zealots thought could lead people to sin.

Digging Deeper
Misguided people have engaged in burning books and other artifacts that they have seen as contrary to their view of what is “proper,” “right,” or “moral” throughout history, and of course the Florence incident was not the first or largest of these burnings, though it is one of the more famous examples. Little evidence exists that such public burnings ever accomplish the purification of a culture that is sought by the fanatics doing the burning.

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