Peter of Abano (1250–1316) was an Italian physician condemned by the Inquisition for his alleged infernal knowledge and magical practices. Peter of Abano wrote on Astrology and Geomancy but was not likely to have been a magician. His fate at the hands of the Inquisition made him “one of the moral martyrs of Magic,” according to Arthur Edward Waite.
Peter of Abano was born in 1250 in Abano, Italy, a small town near Padua. He established his medical practice in Paris, where he gained fame for his work to reconcile different medical systems. He said that astrology was essential to medicine, and he introduced ideas from Arab doctors, primarily Ibn-Rushd (Averroës). Jealous peers accused him of heresy, and he fled back to Abano.
A chair was created for him at the University of Padua, but the accusations of heresy continued to hound him. Some said he denied the existence of Demons, while others said he kept seven Imps in a bottle from whom he gained his medical and magical knowledge. The accusations twice drew the attention of inquisitors. In his first trial, he was acquitted, but in the second trial he was condemned to death by burning at the stake. Prior to the carrying out of his sentence, Abano died. He left behind a testament affirming his belief in Christianity.
Peter of Abano was buried on sacred ground, which infuriated the Inquisition tribunal. The tribunal ordered the Padua magistrates to exhume the body or to face excommunication. The corpse was removed by a faithful servant and was secretly buried in another churchyard. Still the tribunal wanted the sentence carried out, but in the end, inquisitors had to be content with the burning Peter of Abano in effigy. A century later, Abano’s memory was rehabilitated with the placement of a bust of him in the town hall in Padua. A statue of him also was erected in Urbino, Italy. Peter of Abano wrote a respected medical work, Conciliator Differentium, published in 1303.
- Waite, Arthur Edward. The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts. 1899. Reprint, York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1972.