Joachim of Fiore

c.1135-1202. Mystic philosopher of history. He lived in Calabria, Italy, where he became a Cistercian monk. After being abbot of Curazzo, he retired to a more remote region and founded the order of San Giovanni in Fiore (1192). He recorded two mystical experiences which gave him the gift of spiritual intelligence enabling him to understand the inner meaning of history. At times he prophesied on contemporary events and the advent of Antichrist. He also meditated deeply on the two great menaces to Christianity, the infidel and the heretic.

With papal encouragement, Joachim explained his beliefs in three major works: the Exposition of the Apocalypse, the Concordance of the Old and New Testaments, and Psalterium of Ten Strings. His explanation involves interwoven patterns of twos and threes. The two testaments represent two eras of history culminating in the first and second advents. These periods are marked by other agreements such as twelve tribes and twelve churches and seven seals and seven openings. History is also trinitarian, with the first age being that of the Father when mankind lived under the law as recorded in the OT. The second age, that of the Son, is the period of grace and covers the NT dispensation which Joachim believed would last for forty-two generations of thirty years each. The third age was to be that of the Spirit during which the liberty of spiritual intelligence would prevail. This new age was to begin about a.d. 1260 and would be characterized by the rise of new religious orders that would convert the world.

Joachim's teaching was not meant to undermine ecclesiastical authority, but it inspired groups such as the Spiritual Franciscans and the Fraticelli, who carried his ideas to revolutionary conclusions to claim to be Joachim's spiritual men ready to usher in the third age.

See H. Bett, Joachim of Fiore (1931).