Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

(ARNALDUS OF VILLANUEVA, or VILLENEUVE, or BACHUONE).

Celebrated in his day as a physician, pharmacist, and alchemist, b. between 1235 and 1240; d. at sea near Genoa, 1312 or 1313. Like much else connected with this very unusual man, most of the details of his life are obscure. The latinized form of his native town is Villanova; there were not a few towns of this name at that period in Spain, France, and Italy. Some identify it with Villanueva in Catalonia, Diocese of Valencia, others with Villeneuve-Loubet in the arrondissement of Grasse, France. He died while on his way to visit the sick pontiff, Clement V. Well versed in the classical languages, Hebrew, and Arabic, he also understood all that was then known of the natural sciences, especially medicine and pharmacology. At Barcelona he had John Casamila as teacher, thought highly of Galen, and among the Arabs cared only for Rhazes. He taught medicine, botany, and alchemy at Barcelona, Montpellier, and Paris. His life was a wandering one; besides the cities just mentioned, he lived for considerable periods of time at Lyons, Avignon, Rome, Florence, Bologna, Naples, and Palermo. He was considered superior to all other physicians and alchemists, so that he was frequently summoned by popes and princes. Thus he was at times at the papal Court during the reigns of Innocent V, Boniface VIII, Benedict XI, and Clement V. He was also the personal physician of Pedro III and James II of Aragon, Robert of Naples, and Frederick II of Sicily. He was repeatedly obliged to go from place to place because the Inquisition in Spain and Paris sentenced him to banishment on account of his fantastic writing, which were at times heretical. Owing to the large number of writings still extant bearing his name, some evidently spurious, others doubtful, it is not easy to judge Villanovanus. His reputation in alchemy was excelled only by that of Raymond Lully, who was regarded as his pupil. Modern criticism has assigned to an earlier age many chemical discoveries that were formerly ascribed to Villanovanus, as acids, alcohol, distillation etc. Yet a number of his works were very important in placing medicine and pharmacology on a scientific basis; besides an independent judgment they show ripe experience and great humanity. Although a layman he wrote much on theology. His alchemistic and astrological bent led him into erroneous opinions regarding the Church, the Mass, Antichrist, the end of the world, and the person of Christ. The first complete edition of his works was issued at Lyons in 1504, reissued at the same place in 1520 and 1532 (folio). The most complete edition is that of Taurellus (Basle, 1585), with a biography of Arnaldus. For the individual works see, in particular, Haser, op. cit. in bibliography below. Several of them were repeatedly reprinted before 1500.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 6:10-20
10 Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 144:1, 2, 9-10
1 [Of David] Blessed be Yahweh, my rock, who trains ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:31-35
31 Just at this time some Pharisees came up. 'Go ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 30th, 2014 Image

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
October 30: Confessor and Jay brother, also called Alonso. He was born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter