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Friar Lorenzo Frier (1503-1555)

Frier Friar is the attributed author of “Romeo, plus Juliet: True Confessions of a Ghoastly Father” (1553/4), as edited by Alf Dotson.  One of the four greatest stories ever told.   Slated for June 2015 release.


Extract from Alf Dotson, “Lorenzo Frier:  Biographical notice”—

THE CATASTROPHE of Romeo and Juliet (“Giuletta”) is reported as early as the sixteenth century.  The deadly feud between their families (the “Montagna” and the “Cappelluti” clans) really did happen.   But until 2014, Shakespeare’s Friar Laurence—the meddling clergyman of Shakespeare’s play—was thought to be a fictional character.  With the discovery of Richard Barnfield’s “Romeo; plus Juliet” it became clear that the original Friar Lorenzo was a historical figure as real as Shakespeare himself (though nine years dead before Shakespeare was born).  The author of the Confessioni can now be positively identified from records in the Vatican Library archives:  Fratè Lorenzo Frier, son of an Italian mother, was born in 1503, by which time his good-for-nothing father had already returned to England (Codex Ottaviani F.).  A native of Umbertide, Italy, Frier studied at the University of Padua, matriculating in 1518.  Nothing more is known of his childhood and adolescence beyond what can be inferred from Frier’s juvenilia: “Lorenzo and Adonis” narrates the poet’s frustrated infatuation with a young nobleman from Russia.  In the 1530s, Frier spent a few years in Florence (on his own testimony, in the company of Pontormo and Bronzino, mannerist painters); and in the early 1540s, we find mention of him as a master of alchemy and pharmaceuticals in the Franciscan monastery at Liège.  The remainder of his life was spent in Verona, until his remove to Messina in 1553/4, where he died a year later.


Despite his many years’ of welcome service to the diocese of Verona, Lorenzo Frier following the death of Giuletta Cappelluti ran afoul of the secular authorities.  The details are murky.  It may be that he was accused of complicity in the girl’s death.  Were it not for the gracious intervention of Bishop Lippomano, Friar Lorenzo might have ended his life on a Verona gallows.  Instead he was quietly transferred to a benefice in Sicily, as chiurgo capo for the Duomo choir in Messina; where he was able to resume the ministry of castration for which he was best known in his own lifetime.   He also taught at the Jesuit College of Sicily (the first of its kind, founded a few years before, by Saint Ignatius); though what Friar Frier taught the boys who studied there is not recorded, and one hates to speculate…