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THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CARNIVAL AND THE BONFIRE OF VANITIES

Girolamo Savonarola, the monk and preacher active in Renaissance Florence, celebrated the Carnival of 1497 by the famous "Bonfire of the Vanities" (Carnival masks and costumes, indecent books and pictures, etc.) in Piazza della Signoria. A Venetian merchant is known to have bid 22,000 gold forms for the doomed vanities, but the scandalized authorities not only rejected his offer but added his portrait to the pile. Nevertheless the artistic value of the objects consumed has been greatly exaggerated by some writers. There is no proof that any book or painting of real merit was sacrificed, and Savonarola was neither foe to art nor to learning. On the contrary, so great was his respect for both that, when there was a question of selling the Medici library to pay that family's debts, he saved the collection at the expense of the convent purse.

El Paso Herald, July 15, 1920

PS: by the way, a year later Savonarola was hanged in the same piazza, while a fire was ignited below his body to burn his vanity. And to prevent devotees from searching for relics, his ashes were scattered in the Arno River.