Wednesday, October 7, 2015

History of the Bishop of Rome

* "Coats of Arms of the Pope - A Clue to Rome's History and Art" ( [] [begin excerpt]: The Papal State began in 728 with the "Donation of Sutri" when Liutprand, King of the Lombards, donated the town of Sutri to Pope Gregory II. Sutri is located 40 miles north of Rome; gradually the papal possessions were enlarged and they included the region around Viterbo; they were known as "Patrimonio di S. Pietro".

* "Unprecedented: Pope Francis, Russian Patriarch Kirill to meet in Cuba to heal 1,000yr rift" (2016-02-05, [] [begin excerpt]: The meeting between heads the two major Christian churches would be an unprecedented move to mend a millennium-long rift between the Western and Eastern branches of the religion, which started with the Great Schism of 1054. [...]
The Great Schism formalized the break of communion between the Latin and Greek parts of Christianity after years of accumulating differences over theology, jurisdiction and ritual. The division endured over centuries, with mutual anathemas declared by the Pope and the Patriarch of what was then Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1054 nullified only in 1965. [end excerpt]

1301 AD (699 years BM), Pope Boniface declares that "God has placed us over the Kings and Kingdoms". []

"Ancient" Catholic title "Maximus Pontiff" first used 1400s AD (500s BM), and the Office of the Bishop of Rome was inaugurated during the 1100s AD (800s BM), more here [].

* "Anagni", a Papal city ( [] [begin excerpt]: The popes who were born in Anagni and those who often resided there for their own security gave the town a cathedral and a series of adjoining buildings which were consistent with the needs of the papal court. The cathedral was built on the site of the ancient acropolis of the town and its orientation on an east-west axis could be reminiscent of an ancient temple; the construction began in the XIth century in Romanesque style, but Gothic elements were added in the XIIIth century.
The cathedral has three apses, a feature which indicates the influence of Byzantine architecture; the central apse was decorated with a gallery of ancient columns of granite and cipollino and it shows a rare feature in the sense that each column alternates with a sort of capital portraying an animal; the decorative effect of the gallery is increased by porphyry inlays.
(Photo caption) Detail of the central apse:

The cathedral provides very interesting evidence of the development of art in the XIIIth century; similar to many other medieval churches, the façade was decorated with reliefs of prior buildings which were placed here and there on the wall; the decoration of the main portal however is an original work, probably by a member of one of the two families of sculptors and mosaicists who decorated the interior.
(Photo caption) (left) Lintel of the main portal; (right) reliefs of prior buildings on the walls of the façade:

The cathedral provides very interesting evidence of the development of art in the XIIIth century; similar to many other medieval churches, the façade was decorated with reliefs of prior buildings which were placed here and there on the wall; the decoration of the main portal however is an original work, probably by a member of one of the two families of sculptors and mosaicists who decorated the interior.
(Photo caption) (left) Cosmatesque floor; (right) bishop's throne by Pietro Vassalletto:

Cosmati and Vassalletto were two dynasties of mosaicists, sculptors and in some cases architects, whose works can be regarded as an innovative development of medieval patterns; the Cosmati are known in particular for their church floors; in their mosaics they employed coloured stones which decorated ancient Roman buildings, but the designs they created were entirely new.  [end excerpt]

* "Abridged History of Rome - part II, page IV - The rise and fall of theocratic power" ( [] [begin excerpt]: In 1291 the last trace of Christian rule in Palestine disappeared due to the fall of Acre into Muslim hands. Pope Boniface VIII realized that a tenth crusade would not have achieved what the preceding ones had failed to do. Pilgrims went to Jerusalem because of the indulgences granted to them (a remission of their punishment in purgatory due for sins); the pope decreed in a bull issued in February 1300 that sinners would be granted special indulgences if they visited in that year the city of Rome and the tomb of St Peter, Prince of the Apostles. He declared the year 1300 a holy year: it was the first Christian Jubilee.
By this decision the pope achieved several objectives: by replacing Jerusalem with Rome he put an end to the crusades which had drained resources and because of their repeated failures had had negative impact on the image of the popes who had promoted them; he emphasized the figure of St Peter upon whom the papal role was based; he granted to the City of Rome and to the Church a significant economic benefit. In his decree Boniface established that Jubilees should occur every hundred years, but already in 1350 another Jubilee was announced and eventually it was decided to have a Jubilee every 25 years so that each generation could attend one of them.
The Jubilees had a great importance for the urban development of Rome; new streets, bridges, churches, hostels were built for these events.
(Photo caption): S. Giovanni in Laterano: Pope Boniface VIII blessing the crowd during the Jubilee (fresco traditionally attributed to Giotto); monument to the pope by Francesco Borromini.

* "Abridged History of Rome - part II, page IV - The rise and fall of theocratic power" ( [] [begin excerpt]: Pope Boniface VIII is one of the most controversial figures of the history of the church: Dante placed him in Hell and called him Lo principe de' novi Farisei (The Leader of the modern Pharisees) (Inferno, Canto XXVII, 85) because the pope was thought to have sold for his own profit pardons and other ecclesiastical privileges and to have convinced with malicious arts his predecessor Pope Celestine V to renounce the papal throne (Dante placed in Hell most of the popes and monarchs discussed in this page). These charges were part of a smear campaign promoted by Philip IV the Fair, King of France.
Boniface belonged to the Caetani, a powerful Roman family who had control of the town of Anagni: the pope favoured his family to the detriment of the Colonna, whose fief of Palestrina was destroyed by papal troops. Two Colonna cardinals fled to France where they started to plot against the pope.
Pope Boniface VIII pushed the papal claim of supremacy over all the temporal leaders to its extreme.
His conflict with the King of France arose from not very spiritual causes: a matter of taxation rights which due to the stubbornness of the two leaders led to an open confrontation: the pope claimed that the king should submit to his decisions, the king claimed that the election of Boniface was unlawful. The conflict between the pope and the king was accompanied by a parallel fight between the Colonna and the Orsini.
In their long quarrels with the German emperors, the popes exploited a weakness of their adversaries: the fact that they were elected and that, once they had been excommunicated, that election became null. Boniface did not realize that Philip was in a different and stronger position: an excommunication did not impact on his right to the throne, as it did for the emperors; the French clergy and most of the French cardinals remained loyal to him. In addition the conflict with the Colonna weakened the position of Boniface even in Rome. In September 1303 Guillaume de Nogaret, a close adviser to the king, and Sciarra Colonna led an assault to the papal palace at Anagni and took Boniface prisoner: according to the traditional account Sciarra Colonna slapped the pope in the face. The inhabitants of Anagni reacted and freed the pope who with the help of the Orsini returned to Rome. A few days later Boniface VIII died owing to the stress and bitterness caused by the affront he had experienced and by the realization that his policy had failed.

* "Avignon" or Roma Gallica ( [] [begin excerpt]:
The Palace of the Popes -
For more than 450 years Avignon was under the rule of the Church. It was "Roma Gallica" that is the Rome of France as it was written in the medallion under the portrait of Clement VI the most important Pope who lived in Avignon. It was reunited to France in 1791, but in just a few years all signs of the previous rule were destroyed. For ten years Religion was banned and the Revolutionary Government systematically fought every symbol of faith. After this period the knowledge of having destroyed masterpieces of art and memories of the past prevailed, but very little was left. [end excerpt]
Map of Avignon in a 1580 fresco at Galleria delle Mappe Geografiche in the corridors of Palazzo del Belvedere in Rome

* "Out of the Middle Ages - From Legend to History" ( []:
The earliest papal coats of arms cannot be found in Rome, because during the XIIIth century very often the popes were unable to reside in the city of which they were bishops: in addition Roman medieval churches and buildings where the popes might have placed their heraldic symbols were rebuilt or modified in the following centuries (see a directory listing the remaining medieval monuments of Rome).
One of the earliest references to the symbols of the popes can be seen on a medieval building in Montefiascone.

The Bell in the Cathedral of Anagni -
The Caetani, the family of Pope Boniface VIII, controlled several towns in southern Latium and they fortified Via Appia, the road linking their fiefdoms to Rome; the ancient tomb of Cecilia Metella was turned into a Caetani fortress and two coats of arms were placed at the entrance of the residence they built near the tomb. A Caetani tower controlled Ponte Quattro Capi, one of the two remaining bridges of Ancient Rome. Yet, notwithstanding the power of his family, Pope Boniface VIII preferred to reside in Anagni, a Caetani fiefdom, rather than in Rome; he enlarged the cathedral and in 1296 he donated a bell which was decorated with the papal tiara (which the pope himself redesigned) and the Caetani coat of arms.
(Photo) Bell in the Cathedral of Anagni with the coat of arms of Pope Boniface VIII:

The Gate in Assisi -
In 1309 Pope Clement V decided to permanently settle the papal court at Avignon in southern France and this explains why there is no evidence of papal coats of arms in Rome or the Papal State during the first half of the XIVth century. Pope Urban V responded to the many calls for the return of the Pope to Rome, by asking Cardinal Jil Alvarez de Albornoz to restore authority in the papal Italian possessions; Cardinal Albornoz conquered many towns and fortresses of northern Latium and Umbria and he placed there the coat of arms of the pope. In 1367 the pope returned to Rome, but he soon withdrew to Viterbo.
(Photo) Coat of arms of Pope Urban V in Porta S. Francesco in Assisi:

Tomb of Pope Urban VI in the Vatican Grottoes -
The final return of the Pope to Rome in 1377 was followed by a period of conflict which is known as the Great Schism; at a certain point three popes claimed to be the true successors of St. Peter; this explains why their coats of arms can be seen on fortifications rather than churches, as Pope Boniface IX did at Narni and on a tower of Palazzo Senatorio; some of them were able to place their heraldic symbol only on their funerary monuments.
(Photo) Tomb of Pope Urban VI in the Grotte Vaticane in S. Pietro showing St. Peter giving his keys to the pope:

Small coats of arms of Pope Martin V -
It was only during the pontificate of Pope Martin V that Rome returned to be the (almost) permanent residence of the papal court; the Colonna, the family of the pope had many fiefdoms around Rome where one can see the coats of arms of Pope Martin V, which began to acquire a consistent design with the family heraldic symbol placed on a shield and the tiara and the keys above it.
(Photo) Small coats of arms Pope Martin V in towns around Rome (Barbarano, Todi and Genazzano):

Coat of arms of Pope Calixtus III at Ponte Milvio  -
While the coats of arms of Pope Martin V lacked artistic interest, those of his successors started to be more accurately designed; also their size became larger, not a mere small tablet, but a large piece of marble, very often the interior of an ancient sarcophagus. Another coat of arms of Pope Calixtus III in S. Prisca shows an elaborate design and a skilled execution.
(photo) Coat of arms of Pope Calixtus III at Ponte Milvio with that of his nephew Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia:

Coats of arms of Pope Pius II on the Walls of Rome -
Pope Pius II, the successor of Pope Calixtus III, did not lack self-esteem and he placed his coats of arms on all the initiatives he supported including minor restorations of the walls of Rome; he also placed many of his coats of arms in the small village where he was born which he renamed Pienza and in Siena from where his family came. The design of his coats of arms on the walls of Rome was regarded as a pattern to follow during the next fifty years.
(photos) Coats of arms of Pope Pius II on the Walls of Rome:

* "The Dragon and the Calender: Gregory XIII" ( []:
(dragon in the Monument to Maria Eleonora Boncompagni Ludovisi in S. Maria del Popolo)

The Dragon -
Cardinal Ugo Boncompagni was elected pope on May 13, 1572 after a one-day conclave. His election was supported by Spain where Cardinal Boncompagni had been nuncio (ambassador) for several years. His coat of arms shows a dragon with a truncated tail (the evil part of this imaginary animal). This is not always evident in some coats of arms or in statues of the dragon. He was buried in St Peter's near the part of the church (Cappella Gregoriana) erected under his pontificate and the monument was topped by a coat of arms, which Filippo Juvarra included in his 1711 book on the coats of arms of the popes (in the drawing the dragon is looking to the right, while in the actual monument it is looking to the left). The coat of arms was lost a few years later when a new monument to the pope was designed by Camillo Rusconi (the dragon in the background of the page is part of this new monument). The dragon can also be seen in the coats of arms of the families Borghese and Del Drago.
(Photo caption) Coat of arms of Gregory XIII in St Peter's (drawing by Filippo Juvarra) and Monument (lost) to Gregory XIII in St Peter's (from Gesta Pontificum Romanorum by Giovanni Palazzo - Venice 1688):

Outside Rome -
Gregory XIII was born in Bologna in 1502 and he was always proud of his birthplace. He used to add Bononiensis to his name. In return Bologna in 1580 erected to the pope a gigantic bronze statue (by Alessandro Menganti) in the front of Palazzo Comunale. The coat of arms was not spared by the effects of the French Revolution in Italy. The coat of arms of the pope inside the palace was deprived of the papal attributes.
(Photo caption) Statue of Gregory XIII and his coat of arms in Palazzo Comunale di Bologna:

For the Holy Year called in 1575 Gregory XIII enlarged the port of Civitavecchia which allowed the pilgrims from France and Spain easy access to Rome by sea. The coat of arms celebrating the event was severely damaged when Civitavecchia was bombed during World War II (next to the coat of arms an inscription in honour of Pope Urban VIII).
Coats of arms of Gregory XIII can be found in many towns of the papal state (see the gate in his honour in Visso).
(Photo caption) Coats of arms in the harbour of Civitavecchia:

Near Rome the coats of arms of Gregory XIII had better luck. In 1681 the Boncompagni inherited the possessions of the Ludovisi another family from Bologna (Pope Gregory XV) and the coat of arms was modified to include a reference to the heraldic symbol of the Ludovisi. The Ludovisi had a large Villa near Porta Pinciana in Rome and another Villa near Albano in the Castelli Romani. A coat of arms of Gregory XIII is also in Villa Taverna, the residence of the Ambassador of the United States near Monte Porzio Catone in the Castelli Romani (by courtesy of Mr Tom Wukitsch).
(Photo caption) Coat of arms of the Boncompagni Ludovisi in Albano and coat of arms of Gregory XIII in Villa Taverna:

In Rome -
Gregory XIII was confronted with the challenge posed by the other Christian religions in northern and eastern Europe. He founded Collegio Germanico, Collegio Greco (near S. Atanasio) and Collegio Inglese (near S. Tommaso di Canterbury). He is considered the second founder of Collegio Romano (the University was named after him). He started the enlargement of Archiginnasio della Sapienza. He was a lawyer and promoted new legislation also in urban development matters. Some of the streets that were completed by his successor Sixtus V were initially designed under Gregory XIII (Via Gregoriana is named after him). His main initiative in Rome had bad luck: the new bridge he built near S. Maria in Cosmedin lasted only a few years and it is known as Ponte Rotto (broken bridge). He brought order to the relationships between the papacy and the formally surviving political bodies of the City of Rome. The tower of Palazzo Senatorio the symbol of communal life was erected under his pontificate and he was celebrated in a statue in the main hall of the building (the statue was moved in the late XIXth century to nearby S. Maria in Aracoeli). The statue shows on the side of the seated pope a dragon (with the appearance of a faithful dog): this idea was copied in similar statues showing Sistus V (with a lion instead of the dragon) and Paul V (with an eagle added to the dragon).
(Photo caption) Statue of Gregory XIII by Pietro Paolo Olivieri in S. Maria in Aracoeli:

Gregory XIII was also supportive of the Church taking the lead in scientific matters. This statement is in contrast with the general view which sees the Church in a rearguard position in these matters, but in the late XVIth century and in the first part of the next century, at least until Galileo in 1633 was forced to abjure his astronomical theories, Rome was home to many scientists. An example of the progress made in topography is the Gallery of Maps in the Vatican Palace: the gallery is frescoed with detailed maps of Italy, including views of the main ports. The ceiling is full of stuccoes and paintings and the entrances to the gallery are decorated with the coats of arms of Gregory XIII.
(Photo caption) Coat of arms in the Gallery of Maps:

Gregory XIII completed the first part of St Peter's (its NE corner), which is called after him Cappella Gregoriana, although it is not a chapel, but rather a part of the transept (in the layout of the basilica following its transformation into a Latin cross church). It was initially designed by Michelangelo and then completed by Vignola (who designed its dome) and Giacomo Della Porta. Gregory XIII had the final say in its decoration and his decision to have mosaics rather than frescoes had an influence on the overall decoration of St Peter's. A large circular mosaic with his coat of arms is at the center of the chapel (it was copied by the popes who built the other parts of St Peter's).
(Photo caption) Detail of the coat of arms in Cappella Gregoriana (left) and relief showing the three scientists who developed the new calendar being introduced to the pope (right) (both in St Peter's):

Gregory XIII was buried in St Peter's next to the chapel in a monument which was replaced by a new one in 1715-23. One of the purposes of this new monument was to celebrate the Reform of the Calendar, by which in 1582 Gregory XIII endorsed the recommendations of a group of scientists and established new rules for the leap year. The ancient civilizations had calendars based on the moon cycle, with various rules to relate it to the sun cycle (succession of years with 12 or 13 months). The Julian calendar named after Julius Caesar introduced a solar calendar of 365 days, every fourth year having 366 days. In the XVIth century a discrepancy between the dates of the solstices and the actual solstices became evident and research indicated that the solar year was slightly shorter than 365 days and 6 hours (as assumed in the Julian Calendar). The Reform of the Calendar introduced by Gregory XIII (hence Gregorian Calendar) cancelled the leap years at the end of the century (but not in those like 2000 which are divisible by 4). The Reform abolished the days between October 4 and October 15, 1582 to readjust the calendar for the past discrepancies. The Reform was introduced in the Catholic countries, but only in the XVIIIth century in England and in the XXth century in Russia (that's why the October Revolution occurred in November 1917). The Orthodox Church has never endorsed the Reform of the Calendar introduced by Gregory XIII and for this reason the Orthodox Christmas and Easter days fall some days later.

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