Showing posts with label 1538. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1538. Show all posts

17 December 2018

Pope Paul III excommunicates Henry VIII

The day a pontiff finally lost patience with the Tudor king

Pope Paul III was born Alessandro Farnese and became pope in 1534
Pope Paul III was born Alessandro
Farnese and became pope in 1534
Pope Paul III announced the excommunication of King Henry VIII of England from the Catholic Church on this day in 1538 in Rome.

Henry had been threatened with excommunication by the previous pope, Clement VII, in 1533 after he married Anne Boleyn. However, Clement did not act on his threat straight away, hoping Henry might come to his senses.

Henry had been awarded the title of Defender of the Faith by a previous pope because he had written a defence of the seven sacraments of the Catholic church against the protestant leader Martin Luther.

But Clement died the following year and a new pope had to be elected.

Pope Paul III, who was born Alessandro Farnese, became pontiff in 1534 and took on the job of organising the Counter Reformation as well as using nepotism to advance the power and fortunes of the Farnese family.

When it became clear Henry was intent on demolishing the Catholic Church in England, Paul III issued the original papal bull - edict - drawn up by Clement VII.

Henry VIII was punished  for his attack on the English Catholic Church
Henry VIII was punished  for his
attack on the English Catholic Church
He lost patience with Henry after he declared himself head of the Church of England and started ordering the execution of anyone who stood in his way.

In the bull, Paul III specifically referred to Henry’s actions in digging up and burning the bones of St Thomas of Canterbury, scattering his ashes to the winds and driving out the monks from St Augustine’s monastery in the same city, putting his deer in their place.

During the rest of his time as pontiff, Paul III used his diplomatic skills to avoid conflict with both Francis I of France and the Emperor Charles V and he reasserted papal control of central Italy.

He convened the Council of Trent in 1545, which met at Trento in northern Italy for nearly eight years to plan the Catholic resurgence in response to the Protestant Reformation.

The Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library in Rome
The Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library in Rome
Travel tip:

The Vatican Library in Rome is the official library of the Holy See. Established in 1475, it is one of the oldest libraries in the world and has more than one million books. In the 17th century, on the orders of Pope Paul V, the Vatican Archives, containing all the Acts promulgated by the Holy See and other important documents, were separated from the Vatican Library. They remained closed to outsiders until the late 19th century when Pope Leo XIII made them available to researchers again. In 2012, to mark the 400th anniversary of the Vatican Archives, a selection of the documents was put on display in the Capitoline Museums in Rome. They included a letter signed by 81 English noblemen, which had been sent in 1530 to Pope Clement V11 urging him to annul Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn.

Hotels in Rome from TripAdvisor

Pope Paul III renewed Michelangelo's commission to  work on St Peter's Basilica during his time in office
Pope Paul III renewed Michelangelo's commission to
work on St Peter's Basilica during his time in office
Travel tip:

As well as leading the Counter Reformation, Paul III was a keen patron of the arts and during his reign as Pope he renewed Michelangelo’s commission to paint the Last Judgment on the wall of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Palace and oversaw the project until it was completed in 1541. He also appointed Michelangelo to take over the supervision of the building of St Peter’s Basilica after the death of the architect Antonio Sangallo the Younger. He commissioned the building of the Palazzo Farnese in the centre of Rome to reflect his wealth and status. The palace was initially designed by da Sangallo but was given some architectural refinements by Michelangelo.

More reading:

The death of Pope Julius II, the 'warrior pope'

The legacy of Michelangelo

Ranuccio II Farnese - the Duke of Parma who feuded with popes

Also on this day:

546: Rome falls to the Ostrogoths

1749: The birth of composer Domenico Cimarosa

1981: Red Brigades seize Nato boss


2 October 2016

Saint Charles Borromeo

Great reformer earned appreciation after his death

This painting of Charles Borromeo is in the St. Hermes Church in Ronse, Belgium
This painting of Charles Borromeo is in the St.
Hermes Church in Ronse, Belgium
Charles (Carlo) Borromeo, a leading Catholic figure who led the movement to combat the spread of Protestantism, was born on this day in Milan in 1538. 

Part of the noble Borromeo family, he became a Cardinal and brought in many reforms to benefit the Church, which made him unpopular at the time.

But he was held in high regard after his death and was quickly made a saint by Pope Paul V.

Borromeo was born at the Castle of Arona on Lake Maggiore, near Milan. His father was Count of Arona and his mother was part of the Medici family.

He was educated in civil and canon law at the University of Pavia.

When his uncle, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Medici became Pope Pius IV in 1559, Borromeo was brought to Rome and given a post in the Vatican.

The following year the Pope made him a Cardinal and asked him to supervise the Franciscans, Carmelites and Knights of Malta and organise the last session of the Council of Trent, which was being held in Trento to reform the Church and counter the spread of Protestantism.  The Council issued a long list of decrees covering disputed aspects of the Catholic religion as well as denouncing what it considered to be heresies committed in the name of Protestantism.

When Borromeo’s older brother died, the family wanted him to leave the Church and marry and have children to continue the family name, but he would not give up his calling.

However, the death of his brother and also his contact with the Jesuits encouraged him to lead a stricter, more Christian life.

Borromeo was made a bishop in the Sistine Chapel in 1563 and became Archbishop of Milan in 1565.

The colossal statue of Charles Borromeo in his home town of Arona on Lake Maggiore
The colossal statue of Charles Borromeo
in his home town of Arona on Lake Maggiore
Before he left Rome, where he had personally overseen church reforms, a nobleman remarked that the city was ‘no longer a place to enjoy oneself or make a fortune’.

Borromeo also reformed Milan after he arrived, simplifying church interiors, clearing away ornaments and banners and separating the sexes during worship.

He believed that many abuses in the church were caused by the ignorance of the clergymen and he established seminaries for the education of candidates for holy orders.

His reforms met with some opposition and a shot was once fired at him when he was in his own chapel. His survival was later considered to be miraculous.

When famine and plague struck Milan, Borromeo used all his own money and then got himself into debt in order to feed the hungry.

He faced increasing opposition while trying to implement the reforms to the Church dictated by the Council of Trent, but in 1584 he became ill with fever and died soon afterwards at the age of just 46.

Even a biographer who admired him described him as an ‘austere, humourless and uncompromising personality.’

But after Borromeo’s death his popularity increased and he was canonised in 1610 and eventually became venerated as a Saint of Learning and the Arts all over the world.

His nephew, Federico Borromeo, furthered his uncle’s support for learning by founding the Ambrosian Library in Milan.

Many churches, colleges, seminaries and even cities throughout the world have been named after Charles Borromeo.  The city of Saint Charles in Louisiana, for example, is named after him, as is the Brazilian city of São Carlos.

Travel tip:

Arona, where Charles Borromeo was born, is a town on Lake Maggiore in the province of Novara. One of its main sights is the Sancarlone, a giant statue of Saint Charles Borromeo made from bronze. It is second in size only to the Statue of Liberty and is believed to have been looked at by the architects of the Statue of Liberty when they were producing their own design.

The Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan
The Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan
Travel tip:

The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Piazza Pio XI in Milan was established in 1618 to house paintings, drawing and statues donated to the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, a library founded in the same building by Cardinal Federico Borromeo a few years before. In addition to works of art, the museum keeps curiosities such as the gloves Napoleon wore at Waterloo and a lock of Lucrezia Borgia’s hair, in front of which famous poets such as Lord Byron and Gabriele D’Annunzio spent a lot of time drawing inspiration. Visit for more information.