Too many Churches and not enough truth (Randy Bachmann,song – ‘Undone’)

Originally written on Thursday, April 8, 2010

Driving home from my gig (early morning of Easter Sunday) and I caught part of this Guess Who ballad on the radio (Undone). The single line from the song  just  seems to sum up so aptly, the present anarchy that prevails across not only Christendom but most organized religion in general. But let’s focus on the Roman Catholic Church, and explore yet another fascinating  chapter in it’s storied past and the political intrigues that played themselves out within the confines of the Holy See, during the reign of Pope Julius II (1443 – 1513), aka  “The Terrible Pope” or “The Warrior Pope”.

Born Giuliano della Rovere, he was Pope from 1503 to 1513, and his tenure is usually remembered for his extremely aggressive foreign policy, ambitious building projects, and commitment and sponsorship of the arts. There is some speculation around his date of birth, usually pegged around  1453. Giuliano della Rovere was the son of Rafaello della Rovere (brother of Pope Sixtus IV)  and of Theodora Manerola. He was sent to France in 1480 as a Papal envoy, where he remained four years, and acquitted himself with distinction, resulting in his  increasing power and influence over the College of Cardinals. In 1483,  an illegitimate daughter was born, Felice della Rovere (by no means the only person to occupy a Papal seat who had fathered a child – illegitimate or otherwise)

While Julius II’s political and ‘military’ achievements are what he is most remembered for, he also had a large role to play in the arts and architecture of the time, with his involvement in beautifying the city of Rome. In 1506 he laid the foundation stone of the new St. Peter’s Basilica, (yes he counted Raphael and Michelangelo among his friends and it is believed that Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for Julius).
Julius was not the first pope to have fathered children before becoming the Pope, and had a daughter Felicia della Rovere born in 1483. Felice’s mother was Lucrezia Normanni, the daughter of a Roman family. Shortly after Felice was born, Julius II arranged for Lucrezia to marry Bernardino de Cupi (a relative of his cousin Cardinal Girolamo Basso della Rovere.
Despite his illegitimate daughter, rumors also surrounded Julius about his sexuality, often referred to as a sodomite by some of his critics (arguably such criticism mostly triggered because of his warrior-like character –  especially  the criticism from those Venetians  opposed to his militaristic policy like the diarist Giralomo Priuli and the historian Marino Sanudo)