Posts Tagged ‘Leo X’

Queer Eye for the Strait Cathedral

Posted in General, On This Day on October 31st, 2014 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

October 31, 1517:   Professor Luther Defaces a Church Door

With all his Teutonic subtlety, Professor Martin Luther hammered on the doors of Wittenburg Cathedral his challenge to the Church.  His “95 Theses” was a list of questions on the issue of Indulgences.  The list could be summarized:   Is the Pope a complete moron or just a shameless thief? For some reason, the Church declined the debate.

Why was the Church selling Indulgences? It wanted the money, of course. You can’t have a Renaissance on a medieval budget. Michelangelo was not cheap, and Raphael could charge even more because he was likable. The Church was undergoing a major redecorating binge….

And now from the video archives: here is “This Old Basilica”:old st teeters finished c

Julius II: I think that this 1200 year-old church needs some work. I am asking the best artists of the Renaissance for their advice.

Leonardo: It is a camp pastiche. A little Byzantine here, a dab Gothic there, a soupcon Romanesque and mustn’t ignore the retro classic.

Bramante: It is also collapsing.

Julius: All right. Let’s build a new one.

Michelangelo: If you want any sculpting done, fine. Otherwise, I might beat you to death.

Julius: That is a fine way to talk to the Vicar of Christ, especially when I am dying of syphilis.

Leonardo: I think that the new cathedral should fly–a transfiguration motif. I will need at least six years to come up with the right shade for the blueprints.

Julius: Leonardo, the word genius doesn’t do you justice. I believe that the Greek words schizo and phrenia might be apt.

And now that we have torn down the old basilica, I have a little surprise: we can’t afford to build a new one! Maybe you should elect some rich idiot to succeed me….

Cardinal Giovanni de Medici: Hi, I was strolling by, trying to pick up altar boys, when I noticed a job posting for Pope. Let’s see the requirements: Catholics preferred and must be willing to bribe the College of Cardinals. I think that can be arranged. So now I am—

Pope Leo X: Bramante, love your plans. I still am not sure how we can afford it.

Bramante: You’re a de Medici. God borrows money from you.

Leo: Buying a Papal election is more expensive than you’d think. I guess that I could raise money by selling indulgences. No problem there. And I suppose that I could be polite to those pyromaniac lunatics in Spain–just in case they conquer any fabulously rich civilizations in the New World. On second thought, couldn’t you guys work in wood and wallpaper?

Junk Mail of 1521

Posted in On This Day on January 3rd, 2009 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

Guess what was in Martin Luther’s junk mail on this day in 1521? It was a big envelope with the exclamation “You May Already Be a Heretic! Learn How You Can Get a Free Trip to HELL!” Yes, Martin Luther had just received his very own Excommunication.

Pope Leo X had finally noticed the loss of Northern Germany and Scandinavia, a mere three years after Luther ignited the Reformation. The Pope had been preoccupied with redecorating the Vatican. Aside from having the aesthetic standards of a De Medici, Leo had an unrequited crush on Raphael and was always finding projects to keep that attractive, personable young man around. Unfortunately, in 1520 Raphael died of syphilis (the consequences of being so attractive and personable) and the Pope lost his major distraction.

Finally, the Pope would deal with that dangerous young man who threatened the supremacy of the Church. Of course, Leo picked the wrong man. The Pope could not be bothered with Luther; Leo was not interested in theology and was not prepared to debate some ill-tempered professor over the standard of living in Purgatory. However, Leo was concerned with young Charlie Hapsburg. By the age of nineteen, Charlie had inherited most of Christendom: he was the King of Spain,Sicily and Southern Italy. And that was just on his mother’s side. Being a Hapsburg, Charles also ruled Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium and–for what it was worth in prestige–the nominal Holy Roman Empire.

The Pope tried to prevent Charles’ election as Holy Roman Emperor, a position that had long been regarded as a Hapsburg prerogative. Then, Leo refused to coronate Charles. The Pope evidently thought that a 19 year-old was unworthy of such power and responsibility. (Leo had been appointed a cardinal when he was 13, and the deMedici family had been bought their kid the papacy; but the young deMedici begrudged the even younger Hapsburg.)

By his futile and meaningless efforts, Leo had managed to offend his most powerful parishioner, the one man in Germany who was in a position to crush the nascent heresy. Not feeling terribly loyal to the Papacy, Charles proved initially quite tolerant of Luther. After all, the Church definitely needed reform; and wasn’t that Luther’s sole aim? Yes, Charles was wrong; but by 1521, the heresy had proved so popular in Northern Germany that only a civil war could crush it. Charles needed the support of the German princes of the North; he intended to conquer Italy if only to make his point to the Pope.

(Leo died without having the pleasure of meeting Charles. However, Pope Clement VII– Leo’s cousin–was persuaded by the German sack of Rome in 1527 to coronate Charles.)

So, after three years of ignoring the loss of northern Europe while alienating any support elsewhere, the Pope finally excommunicated Martin Luther. The most impact that Papal Bull might have had on Luther was a paper cut.