Showing posts with label Pope Paul II. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pope Paul II. Show all posts

15 February 2024

Carlo Maria Martini – Cardinal

Liberal leanings prevented scholar’s elevation to the papacy

Carlo Maria Martini, a liberal within the Catholic Church, lost out to papal rival Joseph Ratzinger
Carlo Maria Martini, a liberal within the Catholic
Church, lost out to papal rival Joseph Ratzinger 
Carlo Maria Martini, who was once a candidate to become pope, was born on this day in 1927 in Orbassano in the province of Turin.

As Cardinal Martini, he was known to be tolerant in areas of sexuality and strong on ecumenism, and he was the leader of the liberal opposition to Pope John Paul II. He published more than 50 books, which sold millions of copies worldwide.

Martini, who expressed views in his lifetime on the need for the Catholic Church to update itself, was a contender for the papacy in the 2005 conclave and, according to Vatican sources at the time, he received more votes than Joseph Ratzinger in the first round. 

But Ratzinger, who was considered the more conservative of the candidates, ended up with a higher number of votes in subsequent rounds and was elected Pope Benedict XVI.

Martini had entered the Jesuit order in 1944 when he was 17 and he was ordained at the age of 25, which was considered unusually early.

His doctoral theses, in theology at the Gregorian University and in scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, were thought to be so brilliant that they were immediately published.

After completing his studies, Martini had a successful academic career. He edited scholarly works and became active in the scientific field, publishing articles and books. He had the honour of being the only Catholic member of the ecumenical committee that prepared the new Greek edition of the New Testament. He became dean of the faculty of scripture at the Biblical Institute, was rector from 1969 to 1978, and then rector of the Gregorian University. 

In his later years, suffering from Parkinson's disease, Martini moved to Jerusalem
In his later years, suffering from Parkinson's
disease, Martini moved to Jerusalem
In 1979, he was appointed Archbishop of Milan, which was considered unusual, as Jesuits are not normally named bishops. He was made a cardinal in 1983. 

He started the so-called ‘cathedra of non-believers’ in 1987, an idea he conceived with philosopher Massimo Cacciari. He held a series of public dialogues in Milan with agnostic, or atheist, scientists, and intellectuals about the reasons to believe in God.

He was presented with an honorary doctorate from the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1996 and an award for Social Sciences in 2000. In the same year, Martini was admitted as a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI was considering retirement, but was being urged against it by some of his confidants. By then, Martini was himself suffering from Parkinson’s disease and he encouraged the Pope to go ahead with his decision to retire.

After his own retirement, Martini moved to Jerusalem to continue his work as a biblical scholar. 

He died in Gallarate in the province of Varese in 2012. More than 150,000 people passed before his casket in the Duomo di Milano. The Italian Government was represented by Prime Minister Mario Monti and his wife. Martini was buried in a tomb on the left side of the cathedral facing the main altar.

Piazza Umberto I in Orbassano, overlooked by the parish church of San Giovanni Battista
Piazza Umberto I in Orbassano, overlooked by
the parish church of San Giovanni Battista
Travel tip:

Orbassano, the comune (municipality) where Martini was born, is about 13km (8 miles) southwest of Turin, falling within the Piedmont capital's municipal area. It can trace its history back to the Roman conquest of Cisalpine Gaul because two imperial era tombstones were found there in the 19th century. The Indian politician, Sonia Gandi, was brought up in Orbassano, although she was born near Vicenza. While studying at Cambridge, Sonia met Rajiv Gandi, who she married in 1968. The couple settled in India and had a family but he was assassinated in his home country in 1991.  Orbassano has a pleasant central square, the Piazza Umberto I, the site of the town's two main churches, the parish church of San Giovanni Battista and the Baroque church of the Confraternita dello Spirito Santo, in which the artworks include a Pentecost by Giovanni Andrea Casella from 1647 and a Madonna and saints by Michele Antonio Milocco from 1754.

Book your stay in Orbassano with

Liberty-style villas built by architect Carlo Moroni and his partner, Filippo Tenconi, abound in Gallarate
Liberty-style villas built by architect Carlo Moroni
and his partner, Filippo Tenconi, abound in Gallarate 
Travel tip:

Gallarate, where Martini died after he spent his final years living in a Jesuit house, is a small city in the province of Varese, about 42km (26 miles) northwest of Milan. It has a Romanesque church, San Pietro, which dates from the 11th century. In Piazza Garibaldi, where there is a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, there is an historic pharmacy, Dahò, where members of the Carbonari used to hide out during the 19th century.  Founded by the Gauls and later conquered by the Romans, Gallarate enjoyed prosperity under Visconti control in the 14th and 15th centuries, when the area's textile industry began to develop and grow. By the 19th and 20th centuries, it was an important industrial city, where thousands of workers were employed in Liberty-style factory buildings. The heavy industry has largely gone now, with high-tech businesses a features of the city's modern economy, but the architectural echoes remain. Piazza Garibaldi also features Casa Bellora, a Stile Liberty mansion commissioned by the local captain of industry, Carlo Bellora, who had factories in Gallarate, Somma, Albizzate, and in the Bergamo area, who hired the architect Carlo Moroni to build a house for his family.  Moroni and the engineer Filippo Tenconi combined to build numerous villas in what is known as the 'Liberty district' between Corso Sempione and the railway. 

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More reading:

How the first railway line in northern Italy sparked 19th century boom

Karol Wojtyla - the first non-Italian pope for 455 years

Carlo Maria Viganò, the controversial archbishop who shocked Catholic Church

Also on this day:

1564: The birth of astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei

1898: The birth of comic actor Totò

1910: The birth of circus clown Charlie Cairoli

1944: Monte Cassino Abbey destroyed in WW2 bombing raid

(Picture credits: Main picture by Mafon1959; older Carlo Martini by RaminusFalcon; Piazza Umberto I by Simoneislanda; via Wikimedia Commons)



26 July 2017

Pope Paul II

Flamboyant pope who helped make books available to ordinary people

Cristofano dell'Altissimo's portrait of Pope Paul II
Cristofano dell'Altissimo's portrait
of Pope Paul II
Pietro Barbo, who became Pope Paul II, died on this day in 1471 in Rome at the age of 54.

He is remembered for enjoying dressing up in sumptuous, ecclesiastical finery and having a papal tiara made for himself, which was studded with diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, topaz, large pearls and many other precious gems.

Barbo was born in Venice and was a nephew of Pope Eugenius IV through his mother and a member of the noble Barbo family through his father.

He adopted a spiritual career after his uncle was elected as pope and made rapid progress. He became a cardinal in 1440 and promised that if he was elected pope one day he would buy each cardinal a villa to escape the summer heat. He then became archpriest of St Peter’s Basilica.

It was reported that Pope Pius II suggested he should have been called Maria Pietissima (Our Lady of Pity) as he would use tears to help him obtain things he wanted. Some historians have suggested the nickname may have been an allusion to his enjoyment of dressing up or, possibly, to his lack of masculinity.

Barbo was elected to succeed Pope Pius II in the first ballot of the papal conclave of 1464.

Beforehand an agreement had been drawn up that bound the future pope to continue the Turkish war, to not journey outside Rome without the consent of the majority of the cardinals, nor to leave Italy without the consent of all of them.

Pope Paul II as depicted in the Nuremberg Chronicles in 1493
Pope Paul II as depicted in the
Nuremberg Chronicles in 1493
The maximum number of cardinals was to be limited to 24 and any new pope was to be limited to having only one cardinal-nephew.

Upon taking office, the new pope, Paul II, was obliged to convene an ecumenical council within three years.

Paul II later modified these terms for his own benefit, losing the confidence of the college of cardinals as a result.

After his coronation, Paul withdrew from public life and became almost inaccessible. Audiences were granted only at night and even his good friends waited a fortnight to see him.

Paul II is reputed to have worn rouge in public. There was a story told by one cardinal that he meant to take the name Formosus II, which means handsome, but that he was persuaded not to. Another story claimed he was dissuaded from choosing Marcus because he was Venetian and the Cardinal of San Marco and because 'Viva San Marco' was the war cry of Venice.

Paul II built the Palazzo San Marco, which is now called Palazzo Venezia, in Rome and continued to live there even when he was pope.

He annoyed the College of Cardinals by creating new cardinals in secret without publishing their names. Some were believed to have even died before their names were published.

The house in Venice's Calle della Pietà, where Pietro Barbo was born.
The house in Venice's Calle della Pietà,
where Pietro Barbo was born.
He often clashed with papal officials and had some of them imprisoned and tortured and he excommunicated the King of Bohemia.

When Paul II died suddenly of a heart attack, reports of the cause of death varied. Some said he had collapsed with indigestion after eating an excess of melons. Some said he had died while being sodomised by a page boy.

Paul II oversaw the introduction of printing into the Papal States with the results that books became less expensive and enabled more people to be educated.

He also put on popular amusements for the locals such as a horse race during the Carnival along a main street in Rome, which then became known as Via del Corso.

He is said to have forced Jews to run naked in the streets for the amusement of non-Jews and it is claimed he made them identify themselves by wearing yellow handkerchiefs in public, a tactic used later during the Holocaust. After the death of Paul II, the next pope and a selecct group of cardinals discovered a quantity of jewels, pearls and gold that he had amassed.

Travel tip:

Before he became Pope Paul II, Pietro Barbo was made archpriest of the old St Peter’s Basilica, the church built over the burial site of St Peter in the fourth century. It contained tombs for most of the popes from St Peter to the 15th century  but in 1505, after Paul’s death, Pope Julius II decided to demolish the old Basilica and replace it with a bigger, far more imposing structure, which would house his own tomb. The present Basilica was designed by Donato Bramate, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

The Palazzo San Marco - now Palazzo Venezia - was Pope Paul II's favoured residence in Rome
The Palazzo San Marco - now Palazzo Venezia - was Pope
Paul II's favoured residence in Rome
Travel tip:

Paul II lived at Palazzo San Marco in Rome even when he was pope. Now known as Palazzo Venezia, north of Capitoline Hill, the palace was originally a modest, medieval house for cardinals to live in. It took on a new layout in 1451 when owned by Pietro Barbo, the future Pope Paul II. It had some of the first Renaissance architectural features in Rome and much of the stone used was quarried from the nearby Colosseum, a common practice until the 18th century.

25 July 2016

Battle of Molinella

First time artillery played a major part in warfare

A scene from the Battle of Molinella depicted by the artist Il Romanino in frescoes at Malpaga Castle, near Bergamo
A scene from the Battle of Molinella depicted by the artist
Il Romanino in frescoes at Malpaga Castle, near Bergamo
An important battle in Italy’s history was fought on this day in 1467 at Molinella, near Bologna.

On one side were infantry and cavalry representing Venice and on the other side there was an army serving Florence.

It was the first battle in Italy in which artillery and firearms were used extensively, the main weapons being cannons fired by gunpowder that could launch heavy stone or metal balls.  The barrels were 10 to 12 feet in length and had to be cleaned following each discharge, a process that took up to two hours.

Leading the 14,000 soldiers fighting for Venice was the Bergamo condottiero Bartolomeo Colleoni. He was working jointly with Ercole I d’Este from Ferrara and noblemen from Pesaro and Forlì.

A portrait of Bartolomeo Colleoni by the Italian artist Cristofano dell'altissimo
A portrait of Bartolomeo Colleoni by the
Italian artist Cristofano dell'altissimo
Another condottiero, Federico da Montefeltro, led the army of 13,000 soldiers serving Florence in an alliance with Galeazzo Maria Sforza, ruler of the Duchy of Milan, King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Giovanni II Bentivoglio, the ruler of Bologna.

Condottieri were professional military leaders hired by the Italian city-states to lead armies on their behalf.

The fighting took place between the villages of Riccardina and Molinella and so the event is also sometimes referred to as the Battle of Riccardina

It is not certain which side won, but as a result Colleoni abandoned his plans to conquer Milan. There were hundreds of casualties and it is thought up to 1,000 horses were killed.

The following year Pope Paul II managed to broker a peace between the two sides.

Travel tip:

Molinella is a small town to the north east of Bologna in Emilia Romagna and was of strategic importance because of its hilltop position between Bologna and Ferrara. It now has a railway station on the Bologna-Portomaggiore line.

Colleoni's castle at Malpaga, south of Bergamo
Colleoni's castle at Malpaga, south of Bergamo
Travel tip:

Bartolomeo Colleoni spent the last years of his life living with his family at his castle in Malpaga to the south of Bergamo, which has frescoes depicting scenes from the Battle of Molinella that are attributed to the painter Il Romanino. The castle is open to the public at weekends between March and November.

More reading:

Colleoni the honourable condottiero

Da Montefeltro used earnings from war to sponsor the arts

(Photo of fresco by Giorces CC BY-SA 2.5it)
(Photo of Colleoni portrait by Sailko CC BY-SA 3.0)
(Photo of castle by Mercurioblu CC BY-SA 3.0)