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Papal History

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2009/01/02 02:38:01 (permalink)

Papal History

Dear friends,

Though at first blush to many people the ban against women priests  might seem like nothing more than equality or feminist issue, it is more than that. In the hearts of Catholic faith, it has always been crucial to determine the true mind of Christ and the genuine meaning of Tradition. The question as to whether or not women can be ordained must not be decided by social pressure. It must be decided by a careful interpretation of the sources. Important questions for consideration in the case are:
  • Did Jesus himself really exclude women? Was it his intention that women be excluded from priesthood?  What does scripture say?
  • Why were women not ordained in the past?
  • Are there valid theological grounds to bar women from ordination?
We agree that the answers to these questions are the ones that should determine the outcome of the debate about women's ordination. 

In considering these questions, one of the sources we examine is the history of the papacy, the teachings of popes, and the actions of their administratons.  Under this umbrella, we also look at and learn from the writings of various theolgians and canon laws that were contemporary during respective papal reigns. 

What kind of men are included in the retinue of popes and stellar theologians?  What  attitudes towards women show through in their writings and actions?  How did they fall prey to the influence of social prejudices against women during their times? 

Any questions, please let me know.

with love and blessings,


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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/02 03:03:02 (permalink)
    A few imporant background aspects that will  help in compehending some of the mindsets we are working to overcome:

    Aristotle, was a philosopher who greatly influenced the thinking of Church leaders.
    Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. He wrote on many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, politics, government, ethics, biology and zoology.

    Together with Plato and Socrates (Plato's teacher), Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. He was the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality and aesthetics, logic and science, politics and metaphysics.

    Aristotle's views on the physical sciences profoundly shaped medieval scholarship, and their influence extended well into the Renaissance, although they were ultimately replaced by modern physics. In the biological sciences, some of his observations were only confirmed to be accurate in the nineteenth century. His works contain the earliest known formal study of logic, which were incorporated in the late nineteenth century into modern formal logic. In metaphysics, Aristotelianism had a profound influence on philosophical and theological thinking in the Islamic and Jewish traditions in the Middle Ages, and it continues to influence Christian theology, especially Eastern Orthodox theology, and the scholastic tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. All aspects of Aristotle's philosophy continue to be the object of active academic study today.

    Aristotle not only studied almost every subject possible at the time, but made significant contributions to most of them. In physical science, Aristotle studied anatomy, astronomy, economics, embryology, geography, geology, meteorology, physics and zoology. In philosophy, he wrote on aesthetics, ethics, government, metaphysics, politics, psychology, rhetoric and theology. He also studied education, foreign customs, literature and poetry. His combined works constitute a virtual encyclopedia of Greek knowledge. It has been suggested that Aristotle was probably the last person to know everything there was to be known in his own time.

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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/02 03:07:26 (permalink)

    Plato (left) and Aristotle (right), a detail of The School of Athens, a fresco by Raphael.
    Aristotle gestures to the earth, representing his belief in knowledge through empirical
    observation and experience, while holding a copy of his Nicomachean Ethics in his hand,
    while Plato gestures to the heavens, representing his belief in The Forms.
    "Plato is dear to me, but dearer still is the truth."
    - Aristotle
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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/02 03:58:20 (permalink)

    Greek philosophy considered woman to be incomplete human beings.
    ‘The relationship between the male and the female is by nature such that the male is higher, the female lower, that the male rules and the female is ruled.’
    - Aristotle 

    Aristotle, was a philosopher who greatly influenced the thinking of Church leaders.
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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/02 04:06:04 (permalink)
    Aristotle, was a philosopher who greatly influenced the thinking of Church leaders.
    Aristotle's main thrust was to explain the nature of things from the way they are seen to be. From the subject and culturally/socially low status of women, he deduced their inferiority by nature.

    According to Aristotle, the reason for women's inferiority lies in a defect. “Women are defective by nature” because they cannot produce semen which contains a full human being. When a man and a woman have intercourse, it is the man supplies the substance of a human being (the soul, i.e. the form.)  If conception occurs, the woman provides only the nourishment (the matter).
    Since it was a fundamental principle for Aristotle that of the two factors or components in every being, ‘form’ is superior to ‘matter’, sexual reproduction was considered beneficial because it demanded that the one who gives the ‘form’ (the male) be separate from the one who supplies the ‘matter’ (the female). Thus the ‘lower’ is not mingled with the ‘higher’ in the same individual.
    Aristotle subscribed to what philosopher Caroline Whitbeck calls the ‘flower pot theory’ of human generation. Since the female is deficient in natural heat, she is unable to ‘cook’ her menstrual fluid to the point of refinement at which it would become semen (i.e. ‘seed’). Therefore a woman's only contribution to the embryo is its matter and a ‘field’ in which it can grow.  A woman's inability to produce semen is her deficiency. ‘A woman,’ Aristotle concludes, ‘is as it were an infertile male’ (Generation of Animals, I, 728a). ‘A male is male in virtue of a particular ability, and a female in virtue of a particular inability’ (Generation of Animals, I, 82f). 
    See: Caroline Whitbeck, ‘Theories of Sex Difference’, in Gould and Wartofsky (eds.), Women and Philosophy , New York 1976, pp. 54-80; M.Maloney, The Arguments for Women's Difference in Classical Philosophy and Early Christianity, pp. 41-49.
    According to Aristotle, man rightly takes charge over woman because he has superior intelligence. According to Aristotle, this profits the women who depend on the man. Aristotle compares this to the relationship between human beings and tame animals when he says:

    It is the best for all tame animals to be ruled by human beings. For this is how they are kept alive. In the same way, the relationship between the male and the female is by nature such that the male is higher, the female lower, that the male rules and the female is ruled.’

    -Aristotle, Politica, ed. Loeb Classical Library, 1254 b 10-14.

    What we should notice in Aristotle’s text is the phrase: by nature. Subordination is right because it corresponds to the way things have been made. Aristotle also reckons that slavery is natural because some people are by nature destined to be slaves.  He writes:

    That person is by nature a slave who can belong to another person and who only takes part in thinking by recognising it, but not by possessing it. Other living beings (animals) cannot recognise thinking; they just obey feelings. However, there is little difference between using slaves and using tame animals: both provide bodily help to do necessary things.

    Aristotle then proceeds to describe a slave’s position and it is truly terrifying. A slave is no more than ‘a tool of his master’. Together with the wife and the ox, a male or female slave is a householder’s indispensable beast of burden. He or she should be kept well — for simple economic reasons. But slaves have no right to leisure or free time. They own nothing and can take no decisions. They have no part in enjoyment and happiness, and are not members of the community.
    For the same reason Aristotle also justifies wars to capture new slaves. For some people ‘are by nature destined to be ruled, even though they resist it’; like wild animals that need to be tamed. He even says that all foreigners to some extent belong to this category.  Aristotle observes:

    That is why the poets say: “It is correct that Greeks rule Barbarians”; for by nature what is barbarian and what is slave are the same.’

    - Aristotle, Physica, vol. 1; Loeb Classical Library, 1252 b 8. See A.TH. van Leeuwen, The Nacht van het Kapitaal, Nijmegen 1984, pp. 182 - 205.

    The prevailing tradition among Hellenists saw society, therefore, as layered in higher and lower forms of human being:
    • Women were inferior to men by nature.
    • Barbarians were inferior to the civilised races by nature.
    • Slaves were slaves because they were inferior by nature.

    This, we can be sure, is how most people thought in the ancient Middle East. This same basic thought would dominate the Christian Middle Ages.
    It is obvious that Christians who accepted the view that women are inferior by nature could not envisage her in the leadership role demanded of bishops and priests.
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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/02 04:29:38 (permalink)

    "For a custom without Truth is but an error grown old."

    - St. Cyprian of Carthage, 3rd century CE

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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/02 04:30:08 (permalink)

    1976: Pope John Paul II and Prefect for the
    Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith,
    Cardinal Josef Ratzinger (as he then was!)
    In 1976, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith declared:

    "From the earliest centuries on, until our own time, the constant practice of the Church has been not to ordain women to the priesthood."
    Inter Insigniores § 6-8, 23 (Declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith attempting to give reasons why women cannot be ordained.)
    When we study Church history, we learn that during most of it, a threefold prejudice has blocked the acceptance of women as priests. This pattern predominates and shows through in various aspects of the teachings and works of many church leaders, canon lawyers and theologians.
    The threefold prejudice
    • Women were considered inferior beings.
    • Women were considered to be in a state of punishment for sin.
      Women were held responsible for bringing original sin into the world, and for being a continuing source of seduction.
      • eg from Tertullian, a philosopher/theologian much admired by Early Church Fathers (he fell into disgrace in later centuries.) Do you not know, woman, that you are (each) an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too.
        • You are the devil's gateway!
        • you are the unsealer of that (forbidden) tree!
        • you are the first deserter of the divine law!
        • you are she who persuaded him (Adam) whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack!
        • You destroyed so easily God's image, man!
        • On account of what you deserved - that is, death - even the Son of God had to die!

      • How could such sinful creatures be channels of God’s grace?!

    • Women were considered ritually unclean because of their monthly periods.
      • eg, According to Church Fathers St Augustine of Hippo and St Jerome, all sex is tainted with sin and a womans womb is “simply revolting”.
      • eg, Rules in the diocese of Canterbury (690 AD):
        • “During the time of menstruation women should not enter into church or receive communion, neither lay women nor religious. If they presume to do so all the same, they should fast for three weeks”.
        • “In the same way those women should do penance, who enter a church before their blood is purified after birth, that is for forty days”.
    Those these prejudices were cultural in origin they became theological prejudices when they were presumed or assumed in Church doctrine.
    As is clear from the writings or Church Fathers, the canons of local synods, church law, and medieval theology, it is these these prejudices that were the real reasons for excluding women from the priesthood.
    The socalled ‘tradition’ of not ordaining women is thereby proven to be a spurious tradition. As St. Cyprian so rightly stated: “A custom without truth is nothing else but an ancient error!” (Letter 74,9).
    post edited by Sophie - 2009/01/02 04:41:14
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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/02 04:44:38 (permalink)

    Dear friends,

    And so we begin our journey through papal history.  Though he is not in my mind an ideal place to take our first step, only because the anniversary of his birth falls on January 1 do we open with a look at the papacy of Pope Alexander VI .  He holds the dubious distinction of  being the most famously corrupt and secular popes in all of history. 


    with love and blessings,

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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/02 04:46:31 (permalink)
    Born January 1 in 1431 - Pope Alexander VI
    Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503) born Roderigo Llançol, later Rodrigo Borja (Italian: Borgia) was Pope from 1492 to 1503. He is the most controversial of the secular popes of the Renaissance and one whose surname became a byword for the debased standards of the papacy of that era. He was born at Xativa, Valencia, Spain. His father's surname was Lanzol (Castilian) or Llançol (Catalan). He assumed his mother's family name of Borja on the elevation of his maternal uncle to the papacy as Calixtus III in 1455.

    Pope Alexander VI
    Education and election
    Borgia studied law at Bologna and after his uncle's election as pope, was created successively bishop, cardinal and vice-chancellor of the church. Nepotistic appointments were characteristic of the age. He served in the Curia under five popes (Calixtus III, Pius II, Paul II, Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII) and acquired much administrative experience, influence and wealth, though not great power.

    On the death of Pope Innocent VIII (1484–1492), the three likely candidates for the Holy See were cardinals Borgia, Ascanio Sforza and Giuliano della Rovere. While there was never substantive proof of simony, the rumour was that Borgia, by his great wealth, succeeded in buying the largest number of votes, including that of Sforza, whom, popular rumour had it, he bribed with four mule-loads of silver. According to some historians, however, Borgia had no need of such an unsubtle exchange - the benefices and offices granted Sforza for his support would be worth considerably more than four mule-loads of silver. John Burchard, the conclave's master of ceremonies and a leading figure of the papal household under several popes, recorded in his diary that the 1492 conclave was a particularly expensive campaign. Della Rovere was bankrolled to the cost of 200,000 gold ducats by the King of France, with another 100,000 supplied by the Republic of Genoa. Borgia was elected on August 11, 1492, assuming the name of Alexander VI. Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici sharply criticized the election and warned of dire things to come:

    Now we are in the power of a wolf, the most rapacious perhaps that this world has ever seen. And if we do not flee, he will inevitably devour us all.

    Nepotism and opposition
    At first, Alexander's reign was marked by a strict administration of justice and an orderly method of government, in contrast to the mismanagement of the previous pontificate, as well as by great outward splendour. But it was not long before his passion for endowing his relatives at the church's and his neighbours' expense became manifest. To that end he was ready to commit any crime and to plunge all Italy into war. Alexander VI had four children by his mistress (Vannozza dei Cattani), three sons and a daughter: Giovanni, Cesare, Goffredo and Lucrezia.

    Vannozza dei Cattani
    one of the Pope Alexander VI

    Cesare, while a youth of seventeen and a student at Pisa, was made Archbishop of Valencia, and Giovanni received the dukedom of Gandia, the Borgias' ancestral home in Spain. For the Duke of Gandía and for Goffredo the Pope proposed to carve fiefs out of the papal states and the Kingdom of Naples. Among the fiefs destined for the duke of Gandía were Cerveteri and Anguillara, lately acquired by Virginio Orsini, head of that powerful house. This policy brought Ferdinand I, King of Naples, into conflict with Alexander, who was also opposed by Cardinal della Rovere, whose candidature for the papacy had been backed by Ferdinand. Della Rovere fortified himself in his bishopric of Ostia at the Tiber's mouth as Alexander formed a league against Naples (April 25, 1493) and prepared for war.

    Lucrezia Borgia, the daughter of Pope Alexander VI,
     was given an opulent wedding at the Vatican Palace.
    click on image to enlarge.

    Ferdinand allied himself with Florence, Milan and Venice. He also appealed to Spain for help.  But Spain was anxious to be on good terms with the papacy in order to obtain the title to the newly discovered continent of America. Alexander, in the bull Inter Caetera, divided the title between Spain and Portugual along a demarcation line. (This and other related bulls are known collectively as the Bulls of Donation.)

    Alexander VI arranged great marriages for his children. Lucrezia had been promised to the Venetian Don Gasparo da Procida, but on her father's elevation to the papacy the engagement was cancelled and in 1493 she married Giovanni Sforza, lord of Pesaro, the ceremony being celebrated at the Vatican Palace with unparalleled magnificence.

    In spite of the splendours of the Pontifical court, the condition of Rome became every day more deplorable. The city swarmed with Spanish adventurers, assassins, prostitutes and informers; murder and robbery were committed with impunity, and the Pope himself cast aside all show of decorum, living a purely secular life; indulging in the chase, and arranging dancing, stage plays and orgies (culminating in the debaucherous Banquet of Chestnuts of 1501) within the Vatican itself. One of his close companions was Cem, the brother of the Sultan Bayazid II (1481–1512), detained as a hostage. The general outlook in Italy was of the gloomiest and the country was on the eve of foreign invasion.

    French Involvement
    Alexander VI made many alliances to secure his position. He sought help from Charles VIII of France, who was allied to Ludovico il Moro Sforza, the de facto ruler of Milan who needed French support to legitimise his regime (1483–1498). As King Ferdinand I of Naples was threatening to come to the aid of the rightful duke Gian Galeazzo — the husband of his granddaughter Isabella — Alexander VI encouraged the French king in his scheme for the conquest of Naples. 

    But Alexander VI, always ready to seize opportunities to aggrandize his family, then adopted a double policy. Through the intervention of the Spanish ambassador he made peace with Naples in July 1493 and cemented the peace by a marriage between his son Giuffre and Doña Sancha, another granddaughter of Ferdinand I. In order to dominate the College of Cardinals more completely, Alexander, in a move that created much scandal, created twelve new cardinals, among them his own son Cesare, then only eighteen years old, and Alessandro Farnese (later Pope Paul III), the brother of one of the Pope's mistresses, the beautiful Giulia Farnese.

    Giulia Farnese, Raffaello 1505 - another of Pope Alexander VI's mistresses: The affair was widely known among the gossips of the time, and Giulia was referred to as "the Pope's whore" or as "the bride of Christ". Giulia and Lucrezia became close friends. Through her intimacy with the Pope she was able to get her brother Alessandro created Cardinal. This earned him the title of "Cardinal of the skirts" from Pasquino.
    When Ferdinand I died in 1494, he was succeeded by his son Alfonso II (1494–1495). Charles VIII of France now advanced formal claims on the kingdom, and Alexander VI authorized him to pass through Rome ostensibly on a crusade against the Turks, without mentioning Naples. But when the French invasion became a reality he was alarmed, recognized Alfonso II as King, and concluded an alliance with him in exchange for various fiefs for his sons (July 1494). A military response to the French threat was set in motion.  A Neapolitan army was to advance through the Romagna and attack Milan, while the fleet was to seize Genoa. But both expeditions were badly conducted and failed, and on September 8, Charles VIII crossed the Alps and joined Lodovico il Moro at Milan. The papal states were in turmoil, and the powerful Colonna faction seized Ostia in the name of France. Charles VIII rapidly advanced southward, and after a short stay in Florence, set out for Rome (November 1494).

    Alexander VI appealed to Ascanio Sforza for help, and even to the Sultan. He tried to collect troops and put Rome in a state of defence, but his position was precarious. When the Orsini offered to admit the French to their castles, Alexander had no choice but to come to terms with Charles, who on December 31 entered Rome with his troops, the cardinals of the French faction, and Giuliano della Rovere. Alexander now feared that the king might depose him for simony and summon a council, but he won over the bishop of Saint-Malo who had much influence over the king, with a cardinal's hat. Alexander VI agreed to send Cesare, as legate, to Naples with the French army, to deliver Cem to Charles VIII and to give him Civitavecchia (January 16, 1495). On January 28, Charles VIII departed for Naples with Cem and Cesare, but the latter slipped away to Spoleto. Napolitan resistance collapsed; Alfonso II fled and abdicated in favour of his son Ferdinand II, who also had to escape, abandoned by all, and the kingdom was conquered with surprising ease.

    The French in retreat

    Castel Sant'Angelo is where Pope Alexander VI secluded himself after the death of the Duke of Gandia. 
    A reaction against Charles VIII soon set in, for all the powers were alarmed at his success, and on March 31, 1495 a so-called Holy League was formed between the pope, the emperor, Venice, Lodovico il Moro and Ferdinand of Spain, ostensibly against the Turks, but in reality to expel the French from Italy. Charles VIII had himself crowned King of Naples May 12 but a few days later began his retreat northward. He encountered the allies at Fornovo and after a drawn battle cut his way through them and was back in France by November.

    Ferdinand II was reinstated at Naples soon afterwards, with Spanish help. The expedition, if it produced no material results, demonstrated the foolishness of the so called 'politics of equilibrium' (the Medicean doctrine of preventing one of the Italian principates from overwhelming the rest and uniting them under its hegemony), since it rendered the country unable to defend itself against the powerful nation states, France and Spain, that had forged themselves during the previous century. Alexander VI, following the general tendency of all the princes of the day to crush the great feudatories and establish a centralized despotism, now took advantage of the defeat of the French to break the power of the Orsini and begin building himself an effective power base in the papal states.

    Virginio Orsini, who had been captured by the Spaniards, died a prisoner at Naples, and the Pope confiscated his property; but the rest of the clan still held out, defeating the papal troops sent against them under Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbino and Giovanni Borgia, Duke of Gandia, at Soriano (January 1497). Peace was made through Venetian mediation, the Orsini paying 50,000 ducats in exchange for their confiscated lands, while the Duke of Urbino, whom they had captured, was left by the Pope to pay his own ransom. The Orsini remained very powerful, and Alexander VI could count on none but his 3,000 Spaniards. His only success had been the capture of Ostia and the submission of the Francophile cardinals Colonna and Savelli.

    Then occurred the first of those ugly domestic tragedies for which the house of Borgia remains notorious. On 14 June the Duke of Gandia, lately created Duke of Benevento, disappeared: the next day his corpse was found in the Tiber.

    Alexander, overwhelmed with grief, shut himself up in Castel Sant'Angelo and then declared that the reform of the church would be the sole object of his life henceforth – a resolution he did not keep. Every effort was made to discover the assassin, and suspicion fell on various highly placed people. When the rumour spread that Cesare, the Pope's second son, had done the deed, the inquiries ceased. No conclusive evidence ever came to light about the murder, although Cesare remained the most widely suspected.

    Confiscations and Savonarola
    Violent and vengeful, Cesare now became the most powerful man in Rome, and even his father quailed before him. Because Alexander needed funds to carry out his various schemes, he began a series of confiscations, of which one of the victims was his own secretary. The process was a simple one: any cardinal, nobleman or official who was known to be rich would be accused of some offence; imprisonment and perhaps murder followed at once, and then the confiscation of his property. The least opposition to the Borgia was punished with death.

    Because of his invectives against papal corruption, Girolamo Savonarola
    was viewed with hostility by Pope Alexander VI. He was eventually
    arrested and executed on 23 May 1498.
    Even in that corrupt age the debased state of the curia was a major scandal. Opponents such as the demagogic monk Girolamo Savonarola, who appealed for a general council to confront the papal abuses, launched invectives against papal corruption. Alexander VI, unable to get the excommunicated Savonarola into his own hands, browbeat the Florentine government into condemning the reformer to death (May 23, 1498). The houses of Colonna and Orsini, after much fighting between themselves, allied against the Pope, who found himself unable to maintain order in his own dominions.

    In these circumstances, Alexander, feeling more than ever that he could only rely on his own kin, turned his thoughts to further family aggrandizement. He had annulled Lucrezia's marriage to Giovanni Sforza — who had responded to the suggestion that he was impotent with the counter-claim that Alexander and Cesare indulged in incestuous relations with Lucrezia — in 1497, and, unable to arrange a union between Cesare and the daughter of King Frederick IV of Naples (who had succeeded Ferdinand II the previous year), he induced Frederick by threats to agree to a marriage between the Duke of Bisceglie, a natural son of Alfonso II, and Lucrezia. Cesare, after resigning his cardinalate, was sent on a mission to France at the end of the year, bearing a bull of divorce for the new French king Louis XII, in exchange for which he obtained the duchy of Valentinois (hence his title of Duca Valentino), a promise of material assistance in his schemes to subjugate the feudal princelings of papal Romagna, and a marriage to a princess of Navarre.

    Alexander VI hoped that Louis XII's help would be more profitable to his house than that of Charles VIII had been. In spite of the remonstrances of Spain and of the Sforza, he allied himself with France in January 1499 and was joined by Venice. By the autumn Louis XII was in Italy expelling Lodovico Sforza from Milan. With French success seemingly assured, the Pope determined to deal drastically with the Romagna, which although nominally under papal rule was divided into a number of practically independent lordships on which Venice, Miilan, and Florence cast hungry eyes. Cesare, empowered by the support of the French, proceeded to attack the turbulent cities one by one in his capacity as nominated gonfaloniere (standard bearer) of the church. But the expulsion of the French from Milan and the return of Lodovico Sforza interrupted his conquests, and he returned to Rome early in 1500.

    Cesare in the North

    Cesare Borgia, the son and cardinal-nephew of Alexander VI,
    became the first person to resign the cardinalate on August 17, 1498.
    This year was a jubilee year, and crowds of pilgrims flocked to the city from all parts of the world bringing money for the purchase of indulgences, so that Alexander VI was able to furnish Cesare with funds for his enterprise. In the north the pendulum swung back once more in favour of the French, who reoccupied Milan in April, causing the downfall of the Sforza, much to Alexander VI's satisfaction.

    In July the Duke of Bisceglie, whose existence was no longer advantageous, was murdered on Cesare's orders, leaving Lucrezia free to contract another marriage. The Pope, ever in need of money, now created twelve new cardinals, from whom he received 120,000 ducats, and fresh conquests for Cesare were considered. A crusade was talked of, but the real object was central Italy; and so in the autumn, Cesare, backed by France and Venice, set forth with 10,000 men to complete his interrupted business in the Romagna.

    The local despots of Romagna were duly dispossessed, and an administration was set up, which, if tyrannical and cruel, was at least orderly and strong, and which aroused the admiration of Machiavelli. On his return to Rome in June 1501 Cesare was created Duke of Romagna. Louis XII, having succeeded in the north, determined to conquer southern Italy as well. He concluded a treaty with Spain for the division of the Neapolitan kingdom, which was ratified by the Pope on 25 June, Frederick being formally deposed. While the French army proceeded to invade Naples, Alexander VI took the opportunity, with the help of the Orsini, to reduce the Colonna to obedience. In his absence on campaign he left Lucrezia as regent, providing the remarkable spectacle of a pope's natural daughter in charge of the Holy See. Shortly afterwards he induced Alfonso d'Este, son of the Duke of Ferrara, to marry Lucrezia, thus establishing her as wife of the heir to one of the most important duchies in Italy (January 1502). At about this time a Borgia of doubtful parentage was born — Giovanni, described in some papal documents as Alexander VI's son and in others as Cesare's.

    As France and Spain were quarrelling over the division of Naples and the Campagna barons were quiet, Cesare set out once more in search of conquests. In June 1502 he seized Camerino and Urbino, the news of whose capture delighted the Pope; but his attempt to draw Florence into an alliance failed. In July, Louis XII of France again invaded Italy and was at once bombarded with complaints from the Borgias' enemies. Alexander VI's diplomacy, however, turned the tide, and Cesare, in exchange for promising to assist the French in the south, was given a free hand in central Italy.

    Last years
    A danger now arose in the shape of a conspiracy on the part of the deposed despots, the Orsini, and of some of Cesare's own condottieri. At first the papal troops were defeated and things looked black for the house of Borgia. But a promise of French help quickly forced the confederates to come to terms. Cesare, by an act of treachery, then seized the ringleaders at Senigallia and put Oliverotto da Fermo and Vitellozzo Vitelli to death (December 31, 1502). As soon as Alexander VI heard the news he lured Cardinal Orsini to the Vatican and cast him into a dungeon, where he died. His goods were confiscated, his aged mother turned into the street and many other members of the clan in Rome were arrested, while Giuffre Borgia led an expedition into the Campagna and seized their castles. Thus the two great houses of Orsini and Colonna, who had long fought for predominance in Rome and often flouted the Pope's authority, were subjugated and the Borgias' power increased. Cesare then returned to Rome, where his father asked him to assist Giuffre in reducing the last Orsini strongholds; this for some reason he was unwilling to do, much to Alexander VI's annoyance; but he eventually marched out, captured Ceri and made peace with Giulio Orsini, who surrendered Bracciano.

    Three more high personages fell victim to the Borgias' greed this year: Cardinal Michiel, who was poisoned in April 1503, J. da Santa Croce, who had helped to seize Cardinal Orsini, and Troches or Troccio, Alexander's chamberlain and secretary; all these murders brought immense sums to the Pope. About Cardinal Ferrari's death there is more doubt; he probably died of fever, but Alexander VI immediately confiscated his goods even so. The war between France and Spain for the possession of Naples dragged on, and Alexander VI was forever intriguing, ready to ally himself with whichever power promised the most advantageous terms at any moment. He offered to help Louis XII on condition that Sicily be given to Cesare, and then offered to help Spain in exchange for Siena, Pisa and Bologna.

    Although it is doubtless that Alexander VI liked to eliminate any cardinal and immediately confiscate their property, there is no suffice evidence on the murdering methods. It has been suggested that the family used their favorite poison Cantarella, an arsenic variation, which was offered to their poor victim in a form of drink with an innovative nickname, the 'liquor of succession'. Since raw forms of arsenic, known at that time, were not immediately fatal, Alexander VI must had invented a method for preparation of that substance, for which no information exists. The famous cup of Borgia, a golden cup with a hidden area storing the poison so it could be mixed with the wine, is often mentioned as the family's favorite murdering method, and it has been the base for many legendary and science fiction stories, including Agatha Christie's short story The Apples of Hesperides published in the 1947 collection The Labours of Hercules.


    Pope Pius III succeeded Alexander VI upon his death.
    Burchard recorded the events that surrounded the death of the Pope. Cesare was preparing for another expedition in August 1503 when, after he and Alexander had dined with Cardinal Adriano da Corneto on August 6th, they were taken ill with fever. Cesare had eventually recovered, but Alexander VI was too old to have any chance. According to Burchard, Alexander VI's stomach became swollen and turned to liquid, while his face became wine-coloured and his skin began to peel off. Finally his stomach and bowels bled profusely. After more than a week of intestinal bleeding and convulsive fevers, and after accepting last rites and making a confession, the despairing Alexander VI expired on August 18, 1503 at the age of 72.

    His death was followed by scenes of wild disorder, and Cesare, too ill to attend to the business himself, sent Don Michelotto, his chief bravo, to seize the Pope's treasures before the death was publicly announced. When the body was exhibited to the people the next day it was in a shocking state of decomposition. Writing in his Liber Notarum, Burchard elaborates: "The face was very dark, the colour of a dirty rag or a mulberry, and was covered all over with bruise-coloured marks. The nose was swollen; the tongue had bent over in the mouth, completely double, and was pushing out the lips which were, themselves, swollen. The mouth was open and so ghastly that people who saw it said they had never seen anything like it before." It has been suggested that, having taken into account the unusual level of decomposition, Alexander VI was accidentally poisoned to death by his son with Cantarella (which was prepared to eliminate Cardinal Adriano), although some commentaries (including the Encyclopædia Britannica) doubt these stories and attribute Alexander's death to malaria, at that time prevalent in Rome, or to another such pestilence. The ambassador of Ferrara wrote to Duke Ercole that it was no wonder the pope and the duke were sick because nearly everyone in Rome was ill as a consequence of bad air ("per la mala condictione de aere").

    Burchard described how the Pope's mouth foamed like a kettle over a fire and how the body began to swell so much that it became as wide as it was long. The Venetian ambassador reported that Alexander VI's body was "the ugliest, most monstrous and horrible dead body that was ever seen, without any form or likeness of humanity". Finally the body began to release sulphurous gasses from every orifice. Burchard records that he had to jump on the body to jam it into the undersized coffin and covered it with an old carpet, the only surviving furnishing in the room.

    Such was Alexander VI's unpopularity that the priests of St. Peter's Basilica refused to accept the body for burial until forced to do so by papal staff. Only four prelates attended the Requiem Mass. Alexander's successor on the Throne of St. Peter, Francesco Todeschini-Piccolomini, who assumed the name of Pope Pius III (1503), forbade the saying of a Mass for the repose of Alexander VI's soul, saying, "It is blasphemous to pray for the damned". After a short stay, the body was removed from the crypts of St. Peter's and installed in a less well-known church, the Spanish national church of Santa Maria in Monserrato degli Spagnoli.
    Alexander gave away the temporal estates of the papacy to his children as though they belonged to him. The secularization of the church was carried to a pitch never before dreamed of, and it was clear to all Italy that he regarded the papacy as an instrument of worldly schemes with no thought of its religious aspect. During his pontificate the church was brought to its lowest level of degradation. The condition of his subjects was deplorable, and if Cesare's rule in Romagna was an improvement on that of the local tyrants, the people of Rome have seldom been more oppressed than under the Borgia.

    Alexander VI has become almost a mythical character, and countless legends and traditions are attached to his name. Alexander was not the only figure responsible for the general unrest in Italy or for the foreign invasions, but he was ever ready to profit by them. Even if the stories of his murders (including the rumor that his first murder was at the age of 12), poisonings and immoralities are not all true, there is no doubt that his greed for money and his essentially vicious nature led him to commit a great number of crimes. For many of his misdeeds his son Cesare was as guilty as his father as well.

    The one pleasing aspect of his life is his patronage of the arts, and in his days a new architectural era was initiated in Rome with the coming of Bramante. Raphael, Michelangelo and Pinturicchio all worked for him, and a curious contrast, characteristic of the age, is afforded by the fact that a family so steeped in vice and crime could take pleasure in the most exquisite works of art.
    The administration Pope Alexander VI created
    to replace the despots of Romagna drew the
    admiration of political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli.

    Alexander VI, allegedly a marrano according to papal rival Giuliano della Rovere, distinguished himself by his relatively benign treatment of Jews. After the 1492 expulsion of Jews from Spain, some 9,000 famished Iberian Jews arrived at the borders of the Papal States. Alexander welcomed them into Rome, declaring that they were "permitted to lead their life, free from interference from Christians, to continue in their own rites, to gain wealth, and to enjoy many other privileges." He similarly allowed the immigration of Jews expelled from Portugal in 1497 and from Provence in 1498.
    It has been noted that the crimes of Alexander VI are similar in nature to those of other Renaissance princes, with the one exception being his position in the Church. As De Maistre said in his work Du Pape, "The latter are forgiven nothing, because everything is expected from them, wherefore the vices lightly passed over in a Louis XIV become most offensive and scandalous in an Alexander VI."

    Mistresses and family

    Giovanni de Candia Borgia, 2nd Duke of Gandia.
    Son of Pope Alexander VI
    Click on image to enlarge.

    Of Alexander's many mistresses the one for whom his passion lasted longest was a certain Vannozza (Giovanna) dei Cattani, born in 1442, and wife of three successive husbands. The connection began in 1470, and she bore him four children whom he openly acknowledged as his own: Giovanni, afterwards duke of Gandia (born 1474), Cesare (born 1476), Lucrezia (born 1480), and Goffredo or Giuffre (born 1481 or 1482). His other children – Girolamo, Isabella and Pier Luigi – were of uncertain parentage. Before his elevation to the papacy Cardinal Borgia's passion for Vannozza somewhat diminished, and she subsequently led a very retired life. Her place in his affections was filled by the beautiful Giulia Farnese (Giulia Bella), wife of an Orsini, but his love for his children by Vannozza remained as strong as ever and proved, indeed, the determining factor of his whole career. He lavished vast sums on them and loaded them with every honour. The atmosphere of Alexander's household is typified by the fact that his daughter Lucrezia lived with his mistress Giulia, who bore him a daughter, Laura, in 1492.

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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/02 05:16:31 (permalink)
    Dear friends,

    Turning an eye to theology about women during the time of Pope Alexander VI ...  Alexander lived from 1431 to 1503.  His papacy endured from 1492 to 1503.

    In 1486 -- just prior to the start his reign -- emerged the infamous Hammer of Witches.  It is a handbook written by two Inquisitors, Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger on how to discover and punish witches. First published in Germany in 1487, it's main purpose was to systematically refute arguments claiming that witchcraft did not exist, to refute those who expressed skepticism about its reality, to prove that witches were more often women than men, and to educate magistrates on the procedures that could find them out and convict them. It is also known as The Malleus Maleficarum.  Though it was not a product of Alexander's papacy, it was generally accepted as an authority for Inquisitors during his reign. The book is characteristic of the opinion of many post-scholastic theologians. 
    The Devil Carrying Off A Frivilous Woman
    Malleus Malefecarum
    A typical excerpt from the book betrays incredible prejudice against women! This prejudice (and the book) led to the execution of thousands of innocent women accused of being witches.

    A document from our library (access link here: http://www.womenpriests.org/theology/hammer1.asp) provides more information about the book. First printed in 1486, it saw innumerable reprints in German, French, Italian and English and was responsible for bringing thousands of innocent women to the stake.
    It may be objected that The Hammer of Witches was an exceptional book and that quoting from it may prejudice us unfairly against post-scholastic theologians. The unfortunate truth is that in spite of its monstrosities, it was universally accepted as containing good theology and sound Catholic doctrine. One of its authors, Jakob Sprenger, O.P., was Dean of Cologne University. The other, Heinrich Kramer, O.P., was prior and spiritual director in many places. Both men were appointed inquisitors for Germany by Pope Innocent VIII in 1484. Both authored many theological treatises.
    Our researchers quote from the introduction of a later edition:
    There can be no doubt that The Malleus Maleficarum had in its day and for a full couple of centuries an enormous influence. There are few demonologists and writers upon witchcraft who did not refer to its pages as an ultimate authority. It was continually quoted and appealed to in the witch trials of Germany, France, Italy, and England; whilst the methods and examples of the two Inquisitors gained an even more extensive credit and sanction owing to their reproduction (sometimes without direct acknowledgement) in the works of Bodin, De Moura, Oberlal, Cicogna, Peperni, Martinus Aries, Anania, Binsfeld, Bernard, Basin, Menghi, Stampa. Clodius, Schslharmer, Wolf, Stegmann, Neissner, Voigt, Cattani, Richardus and a hundred more" (Ibid, pg. XXXiX).
    In a preface to the book written on October the 7th 1946 (!!) Fr. Montague Summers has some amazing things to say. After asserting that the writings of the two authors "are well approved by many learned men, Pontiffs, Saints, and Theologians alike’’, he praises the virtues of the Hammer of Witches:
    One turns to it again and again with edification [!] and interest. From the point of view of psychology [!], from the point of view of jurisprudence, from the point of view of history, it is supreme. What is most surprising is the modernity of the book. There is hardly a problem, a complex, a difficulty, which they have not foreseen, and discussed, and resolved...with the greatest clarity, with unflinching logic with scrupulous impartiality [!] (Ibid,1948 Preface, pg. ix-x).
    Yet, this is the book which describes in the most lurid details imaginary sexual orgies between penis-toting devils and human witches (all proved from Scripture, of course). This is the book that sanctioned limitless torture to extract confessions from the accused. It is a book full of superstitious belief, sadistic cruelty, bigotry and hatred for women.
    Our www.womenpriests.org website founder Dr. John Wijngaards observes:
    It is sad to reflect that while so many harmless books were put on the "Index" of forbidden books, a book of this nature was continuously reprinted with an approving Bull of Innocent VIII (1484 AD) to give it ecclesiastical authority.
    If you have any questions, please let me know.
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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/02 05:19:14 (permalink)
    The Hammer of Witches
    Excerpt from the Malleus Malificarum by H.Kramer and J.Sprenger (1486 AD), translated by Montague Summers, London 1928; reprinted by Dover Publications, New York 1971, here pgs. 43-47.

    (Unfortunately, the Malleus Malificarum had an enormous
    influence on the Church for at least three centuries. It is sad to reflect that while so many harmless books were put on the "Index" of forbidden books, a book of this nature was continuously reprinted with an approving Bull of Innocent VIII (1484 AD) to give it ecclesiastical authority.)

    Part I. Question 6

    Why is it that women are chiefly addicted to evil superstitions?
    . . . Others again have propounded other reasons why there are more superstitious women found than men. And the first is that they are more credulous; and since the chief aim of the devil is to corrupt faith, therefore he rathers attacks them. See Ecclesiasticus xix: He that is quick to believe is light-minded, and shall be diminished.
    The second reason is, that women are naturally more impressionable, and more ready to receive the influence of a disembodied spirit; and that when they use this quality well they are very good, but when they use it ill they are very evil.
    The third reason is that they have slippery tongues, and are unable to conceal from their fellow-women those things which by evil arts they know; and, since they are weak, they find an easy and secret manner of vindicating themselves by witchcraft. See Ecclesiasticus as quoted above: I had rather dwell with a lion and a dragon than to keep house with a wicked woman. All wickedness is but little to the wickedness of a woman. And to this may be added that, as they are very impressionable, they act accordingly.
    There are also others who bring forward yet other reasons, of which preachers should be very careful how they make use. For it is true that in the Old Testament the Scriptures have much that is evil to say about women, and this because of the first temptress, Eve, and her imitators; yet afterwards in the New Testament we find a change of name, as from Eva to Ave (as S.Jerome says), and the whole sin of Eve taken away by the benediction of MARY. Therefore preachers should always say as much praise of them as possible.
    But because in these times this perfidy is more often found in women than in men, as we learn by actual experience, if anyone is curious as to the reason, we may add to what has already been said the following: that since they are feebler both in mind and body, it is not surprising that they should come more under the spell of witchcraft.
    For as regards intellect, or the understanding of spiritual things, they seem to be of a different nature from men; a fact which is vouched for by the logic of the authorities, backed by various examples from the Scriptures. Terence* says:
    Women are intellectually like children. And Lactantius (Institutiones, III): No woman understood Philosophy except Temeste.t And Proverbs xi, as it were describing a woman, says: As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.
    But the natural reason is that she is more carnal than a man, as is clear from her many carnal abominations. And it should be noted that there was a defect in the formation of the first woman, since she was formed from a bent rib, that is, a rib of the breast, which is bent as it were in a contrary direction to a man. And since through this defect she is an imperfect animal, she always deceives. For Cato says:
    When a woman weeps she weaves snares. And again: When a woman weeps, she labours to deceive a man. And this is shown by Samson’s wife, who coaxed him to tell her the riddle he had propounded to the Philistines, and told them the answer, and so deceived him. And it is clear in the case of the first woman that she had little faith; for when the serpent asked why they did not eat of every tree in Paradise, she answered: Of every tree, etc. —lest perchance we die.
    Thereby she showed that she doubted, and had little faith in the word of God. And all this is indicated by the etymology of the word; for Femina comes from Fe and Minus, since she is ever weaker to hold and preserve the faith. And this as regards faith is of her very nature; although both by grace and nature faith never failed in the Blessed Virgin, even at the time of Christ’s Passion, when it failed in all men.
    Therefore a wicked woman is by her nature quicker to waver in her faith, and consequently quicker to abjure the faith, which is the root of witchcraft.
    And as to her other mental quality, that is, her natural will; when she hates someone whom she formerly loved, then she seethes with anger and impatience in her whole soul, just as the tides of the sea are always heaving and boiling. Many authorities allude to this cause. Ecclesiasticus xxv:
    There is no wrath above the wrath of a woman. And Seneca ( Tragedies, VIII): No might of the flames or of the swollen winds, no deadly weapon, is so much to be feared as the lust and hatred of a woman who has been divorced from the marriage bed.
    This is shown too in the woman who falsely accused Joseph, and caused him to be imprisoned because he would not consent to the crime of adultery with her (Genesis xxx). And truly the most powerful cause which contributes to the increase of witches is the woeful rivalry between married folk and unmarried women and men. This is so even among holy women, so what must it be among the others? For you see in Genesis xxi. how impatient and envious Sarah was of Hagar when she conceived: how jealous Rachel was of Leah because she had no children (Genesis xxx): and Hannah, who was barren, of the fruitful Peninnah (I. Kingsi): and how Miriam (Numbers xii) murmured and spoke ill of Moses, and was therefore stricken with leprosy: and how Martha was jealous of Mary Magdalen, because she was busy and Mary was sitting down (S. Luke x). To this point is Ecclesiasticus xxxvii: Neither consult with a woman touching her of whom she is jealous. Meaning that it is useless to consult with her, since there is always jealousy, that is, envy, in a wicked woman. And if women behave thus to each other, how much more will they do so to men.
    Valerius Maximus tells how, when Phoroneus, the king of the Greeks, was dying, he said to his brother Leontius that there would have been nothing lacking to him of complete happiness if a wife had always been lacking to him. And when Leontius asked how a wife could stand in the way of happiness, he answered that all married men well knew. And when the philosopher Socrates was asked if one should marry a wife, he answered:
    If you do not, you are lonely, your family dies out, and a stranger inherits; if you do, you suffer perpetual anxiety, querulous complaints, reproaches concerning the marriage port~on, the heavy displeasure of your relations, the garrulousness of a mother-in-law, cuckoldom, and no certain arrival of an heir.
    This he said as one who knew. For S. Jerome in his Contra Iovinianum says:
    This Socrates had two wives, whom he endured with much patience, but could not be rid of their contumelies and clamorous vituperations. So one day when they were complaining against him, he went out of the house to escape their plaguing, and sat down before the house; and the women then threw filthy water over him. But the philosopher was not disturbed by this, saying, “I knew that the rain would come after the thunder.”

    There is also a story of a man whose wife was drowned in a river, who, when he was searching for the body to take it out of the water, walked up the stream. And when he was asked why, since heavy bodies do not rise but fall, he was searching against the current of the river, he answered: “When that woman was alive she always, both in word and deed, went contrary to my commands; therefore I am searching in the contrary direction in case even now she is dead she may preserve her contrary disposition.”

    And indeed, just as through the first defect in their intelligence they are more prone to abjure the faith; so through their second defect of inordinate affections and passions they search for, brood over, and inflict various vengeances, either by witchcraft, or by some other means. Wherefore it is no wonder that so great a number of witches exist in this sex.
    Women also have weak memories; and it is a natural vice in them not to be disciplined, but to follow their own impulses without any sense of what is due; this is her whole study, and al] that she keeps in her memory. So Theophrastus says:
    If you hand over the whole management of the house to her, but reserve some minute detail to your own judgement, she will think that you are displaying a great want of faith in her, and will stir up strife; and unless you quickly take counsel, she will prepare poison for you, and consult seers and soothsayers; and will become a witch.
    But as to domination by women, hear what Cicero says in the Paradoxes.
    Can he be called a free man whose wife governs him, imposes laws on him, orders him, and forbids him to do what he wishes, so that he cannot and dare not deny her anything that she asks? I should call him not only a slave, but the vilest of slaves, even if he comes of the noblest family.
    And Seneca, in the character of the raging Medea,* says:
    Why do you cease to follow your happy impulse; how great is that part of vengeance in which you rejoice? Where he adduces many proofs that a woman will not be governed, but will follow her own impulse even to her own destruction. In the same way we read of many women who have killed themselves either for love or sorrow because they were unable to work their vengeance.

    S. Jerome, writing of Daniel, tells a story of Laodice, wife of Antiochus king of Syria; how, being jealous lest he should love his other wife, Berenice, more than her, she first caused Berenice and her daughter by Antiochus to be slain, and then poisoned herself. And why? Because she would not be governed, but would follow her own impulse. Therefore S. John Chrysostom says not without reason:

    O evil worse than all evil, a wicked woman, whether she be poor or rich. For if she be the wife of a rich man, she does not cease night and day to excite her husband with hot words, to use evil blandishments and violent importunations. And if she have a poor husband she does not cease to stir him also to anger and strife. And if she be a widow, she takes it upon herself everywhere to look down on everybody, and is inflamed to all boldness by the spirit of pride.
    If we inquire, we find that nearly all the kingdoms of the world have been overthrown by women. Troy, which was a prosperous kingdom, was, for the rape of one woman, Helen, destroyed, and many thousands of Greeks slain. The kingdom of the Jews suffered much misfortune and destruction through the accursed Jezebel, and her daughter Athaliah, queen of Judah, who caused her son’s sons to be killed, that on their death she might reign herself; yet each of them was slain. The kingdom of the Romans endured much evil through Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, that worst of women. And so with others. Therefore it is no wonder if the world now suffers through the malice of women.
    And now let us examine the carnal desires of the body itself, whence has arisen unconscionable harm to human life. Justly may we say with Cato of Utica: If the world could be rid of women, we should not be without God in our intercourse.
    For truly, without the wickedness of women, to say nothing of witchcraft, the world would still remain proof against innumerable dangers. Hear what Valerius said to Rufinus: You do not know that woman is the Chimaera, but it is good that you should know it; for that monster was of three forms; its face was that of a radiant and noble lion, it had the filthy belly of a goat, and it was armed with the virulent tail of a viper. And he means that a woman is beautiful to look upon, contaminating to the touch, and deadly to keep.
    Let us consider another property of hers, the voice. For as she is a liar by nature, so in her speech she stings while she delights us. Wherefore her voice is like the song of the Sirens, who with their sweet melody entice the passers-by and kill them. For they kill them by emptying their purses, consuming their strength, and causing them to forsake God. Again Valerius says to Rufinus: When she speaks it is a delight which flavours the sin; the flower of love is a rose, because under its blossom there are hidden many thorns. See Proverbs v, 3-4: Her mouth is smoother than oil; that is, her speech is afterwards as bitter as absinthium. [Her throat is smoother than oil. But her end is as bitter as wormwood.]
    Let us consider also her gait, posture, and habit, in which is vanity of vanities.
    There is no man in the world who studies so hard to please the good God as even an ordinary woman studies by her vanities to please men. An example of this is to be found in the life of Pelagia, a worldly woman who was wont to go about Antioch tired and adorned most extravagantly. A holy father, named Nonnus, saw her and began to weep, saying to his companions, that never in all his 1ife had he used such diligence to please God; and much more he added to this effect, which is preserved in his orations.
    It is this which is lamented in Ecclesiastes vii, and which the Church even now laments on account of the great multitude of witches. And I have found a woman more bitter than death, who is the hunter’s snare, and her heart is a net, and her hands are bands. He that pleaseth God shall escape from her; but he that is a sinner shall be caught by her. More bitter than death, that is, than the devil: Apocalypse vi, 8, His name was Death. For though the devil tempted Eve to sin, yet Eve seduced Adam. And as the sin of Eve would not have brought death to our soul and body unless the sin had afterwards passed on to Adam, to which he was tempted by Eve, not by the devil, therefore she is more bitter than death.
    More bitter than death again, because that is natural and destroys only the body; but the sin which arose from woman destroys the soul by depriving it of grace, and delivers the body up to the punishment for sin.
    More bitter than death, again, because bodily death is an open and terrible enemy, but woman is a wheedling and secret enemy.
    And that she is more perilous than a snare does not speak of the snare of hunters, but of devils. For men are caught not only through their carnal desires, when they see and hear women: for S. Bernard says: Their face is a burning wind, and their voice the hissing of serpents: but they also cast wicked spells on countless men and animals. And when it is said that her heart is a net, it speaks of the inscrutable malice which reigns in their hearts. And her hands are as bands for binding; for when they place their hands on a creature to bewitch it, then with the help of the devil they perform their design.
    To conclude. All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable. See Proverbs xxx: There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, a fourth thing which says not, It is enough; that is, the mouth of the womb. Wherefore for the sake of fulfilling their lusts they consort even with devils.
    More such reasons could be brought forward, but to the understanding it is sufficiently clear that it is no matter for wonder that there are more women than men found infected with the heresy of witchcraft. And in consequence of this, it is better called the heresy of witches than of wizards, since the name is taken from the more powerful party. And blessed be the Highest Who has so far preserved the male sex from so great a crime: for since He was willing to be born and to suffer for us, therefore He has granted to men this privilege.
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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/02 05:19:47 (permalink)
    From Amazon.com:

    The Malleus Maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger

    Book Description

    The Notorious Handbook Once Used to Condemn and Punish "Witches", by Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger. This is one of the most notorious books in history. Thousands of innocent people, especially women, lost their lives at the expense of this book. It was first published around 1489, shortly after the invention of the printing press and five years after a papal bull was issued legitimizing the belief in witches. It went through at least 30 printings and became the handbook for witch hunters, both Protestant and Catholic. It gave permission to bishops and secular authorities to prosecute witches if there were no representatives from the Inquisition around, giving full directions. After the witch trials swept through Europe, some villages were left with as few as two women. So if this book is so bad, why should one read it? Because there are lessons to be learned, both psychologically and historically, and there is an ignorance to overcome. This is a fascinating study of mass hysteria, greed, and delusional behavior.

    . . .

    Rating the MALLEUS MALEFICARUM is an exercise is frustration. One cannot "enjoy" this book; like MEIN KAMPF, one reads it for its historical importance. This book should form a part of every thinking person's library as a warning beacon, if for no other reason that it is a seminal textbook on the inhumanity of humanity.

    First written in 1484 by the Friars Kramer and Sprenger, (and reprinted endlessly), the MALLEUS was immediately given the imprimatur of the Holy See as the most important work on witchcraft, to date. And so it remains.

    The MALLEUS MALEFICARUM is a compendium of fifteenth century paranoias, all the more frightening for its totalitarian modernity. ("Anything that is done for the benefit of the State is Good.") In form, it is a "how to" guide on recognizing, capturing, torturing, and executing witches. In substance, it is a diatribe against women, heretics, independent thinkers, romantic lovers, the sensitive passions, human sexuality, and compassion.

    "Vanity of vanities" indeed. In writing the MALLEUS, Kramer and Spenger claimed to be doing "God's work"; these men, and those who followed them worshiped only their own arrogance. Read it and Be Afraid, my friends.

    Forming a portion of every working law library for 300 years, there is no estimate of how many women and men were put to death through the mechanism of this benighted book. Some historians estimate that the numbers may run into the millions.

    The text is rife with "caselaw" examples of witchcraft, some of which are clearly delusional and some downright silly, or would be, if they hadn't ended in gruesome deaths for the accused. Take the case of the poor woman who was burned for offering the opinion that "it might rain today" shortly before it did.

    Of note are Kramer and Spenger's assertions that prosecutors are (conveniently) "immune" to witchcraft, and their instructions to Judges to tell the truth to the witch that there will be mercy shown (with the mental reservation that death is a mercy to those prisoner to the devil). Such twisted logic is the cornerstone of the MALLEUS.

    The translator, Rev. Montague Summers, waxes rhapsodic on the "learning" and "wisdom" of the authors of the MALLEUS. He was apparently of a mind with Kramer and Spenger, and wrote two embarrassingly effusive and bigoted introductions (in 1928 and 1946), praising the "brillance" of this work and its importance in this "feministic" era.

    Summers' commentary is as frightening as anything Kramer and Spenger wrote in the text proper, the more so for being 20th century, and particularly post-World War Two. Like the Papal Bull of VIII which is now considered integral with the MALLEUS, future commentators will make much of the statements of Summers, a "modern" man.

    In short, the MALLEUS MALEFICARUM was a license to kill. And it was used far too often and far too freely.

    Kramer and Spenger's madness did not die with them; but how many have died with their madness?
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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/02 05:35:12 (permalink)
    as found in wikipedia...

    Cover of the seventh Cologne edition of the Malleus Maleficarum, 1520 (from the University of Sydney Library). The Latin title is "MALLEUS MALEFICARUM, Maleficas, & earum hæresim, ut phramea potentissima conterens." (English: The Hammer of Witches which destroyeth Witches and their heresy like a most powerful spear.)
    The Malleus Maleficarum was published in 1487 by Heinrich Kramer (Latinized Institoris) and James Sprenger (also known as Jacob or Jakob Sprenger). Scholars have debated how much Sprenger contributed to the work. Some say his role was minor  while others say there is little evidence for this claim.

    After meeting resistance from local authorities during a witch trial Kramer and Sprenger requested and received a papal bull Summis desiderantes affectibus in 1484. It recognized the existence of witches and gave full papal approval for the Inquisition to prosecute witchcraft in general and for Kramer and Sprenger specifically. Malleus Maleficarum was written in 1484 or 1485 and the papal bull was included as part of the preface. The preface also includes an approbation from the University of Cologne’s Faculty of Theology. The authenticity of the Cologne endorsement was first questioned by Joseph Hansen but Christopher S. Mackay rejects his theory as a misunderstanding. The Malleus Maleficarum drew on earlier sources like the Johannes Nider's treatise Formicarius, written 1435/37.
    The book became the handbook for witch-hunters and Inquisitors throughout Late Medieval Europe. Between the years 1487 and 1520, the work was published thirteen times. It was again published between the years of 1574 to 1669 a total of sixteen times. The papal bull and endorsements which appear at the beginning of the book contributed to its popularity.

    The Malleus marked an important turn in the approach to witchcraft. The reality of witchcraft had been denied by the church in earlier centuries but now became accepted as a real and dangerous phenomenon.


    The Malleus Maleficarum asserts that three elements are necessary for witchcraft: the evil-intentioned witch, the help of the Devil, and the Permission of God. The treatise is divided up into three sections. The first section refutes critics who denied the reality of witchcraft, thereby hindering its prosecution. The second section describes the actual forms of witchcraft and its remedies. The third section is to assist judges confronting and combating witchcraft. However, each of these three sections has the prevailing themes of what is witchcraft and who is a witch. The Malleus Maleficarum can hardly be called an original text, for it heavily relies upon earlier works such as Visconti, Torquemada and, most famously, Johannes Nider's Formicarius (1435).
    Section I
    Section I argues that because the Devil exists and has the power to do astounding things, witches exist to help, if done through the aid of the Devil and with the permission of God. The Devil’s power is greatest where human sexuality is concerned, for it was believed that women were more sexual than men. Loose women had sex with the Devil, thus paving their way to become witches. To quote the Malleus “all witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable.”

    Section II
    In section II of the Malleus Maleficarum, the authors turn to matters of practice by discussing actual cases. This section first discusses the powers of witches, and then goes into recruitment strategies. It is mostly witches as opposed to the Devil who do the recruiting, by making something go wrong in the life of a respectable matron that makes her consult the knowledge of a witch, or by introducing young maidens to tempting young devils. This section also details how witches cast spells and remedies that can be taken to prevent witchcraft or help those that have been affected by it.
    Section III
    Section III is the legal part of the Malleus that describes how to prosecute a witch. The arguments are clearly laid for the lay magistrates prosecuting witches. Institoris and Sprenger offer a step-by-step guide to the conduct of a witch trial, from the method of initiating the process and assembling accusations, to the interrogation (including torture) of witnesses, and the formal charging of the accused. Women who did not cry during their trial were automatically believed to be witches.
    Major themes
    Misogyny runs rampant in the Malleus Maleficarum. The treatise singled out women as specifically inclined for witchcraft, claiming they were susceptible to demonic temptations through their manifold weaknesses. It was believed that they were weaker in faith and were more carnal than men. Michael Bailey claims that most of the women accused as witches had strong personalities and were known to defy convention by overstepping the lines of proper female decorum. After the publication of the Malleus, most of those who were prosecuted as witches were women. Indeed, the very title of the Malleus Maleficarum is feminine, alluding to the idea that it was women who were the evil-doers. Otherwise, it would be the Malleus Maleficorum (the masculine form of the Latin noun maleficus or malefica, 'witch'), which would mean The Hammer of (Male) Witches. In Latin, the feminine "Maleficarum" would only be used for women while the masculine "Maleficorum" could be used for either sex.
    The Malleus Maleficarum accuses witches of infanticide, cannibalism, casting evil spells to harm their enemies, and having the power to steal men’s penises. It goes on to give accounts of witches committing these crimes.
    The Malleus Maleficarum was heavily influenced by humanistic ideologies. The ancient subjects of astronomy, philosophy, and medicine were being reintroduced to the West at this time, as well as a plethora of ancient texts being rediscovered and studied. The Malleus often makes reference to the Bible and Aristotelian thought, and it is also heavily influenced by the philosophical tenets of Neo-Platonism. It also mentions astrology and astronomy, which had recently been reintroduced to the West by the ancient works of Pythagoras.
    Reasons for widespread use
    The Malleus Maleficarum was able to spread throughout Europe so rapidly in the late fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century due to the innovation of the printing press in the middle of the fifteenth century by Johannes Gutenberg. That printing should have been invented thirty years before the first publication of the Malleus, which instigated the fervor of witch hunting, and, in the words of Russell, "the swift propagation of the witch hysteria by the press was the first evidence that Gutenberg had not liberated man from original sin." The Malleus is also heavily influenced by the subjects of divination astrology, and healing rituals the Church inherited from antiquity.
    The late fifteenth century was also a period of religious turmoil, for the Protestant Reformation was but a few decades in the future. The Malleus Maleficarum and the witch craze that ensued took advantage of the increasing intolerance of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation in Europe, where the Protestant and Catholic camps each zealously strove to maintain the purity of faith.
    Between 1487 and 1520, twenty editions of the Malleus were published, and another sixteen editions were published between 1574 to 1669. Popular accounts suggest that the extensive publishing of the Malleus Maleficarum in 1487 launched centuries of witch-hunts in Europe. Estimations of deaths have varied widely, but the more commonly accepted estimates are between 40,000 and 100,000 people, mostly women, because they were accused as witches. However, as some researchers have noted, the fact that the Malleus was popular does not imply that it accurately reflected or influenced actual practice; one researcher compared it to confusing a "television docu-drama" with "actual court proceedings." Estimates about the effect of the Malleus should thus be weighed accordingly.

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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/02 05:42:43 (permalink)

    It must be noted that during the Inquisition, few, if any verifiable witches were ever discovered or tried. Often the very accusation was enough to see one branded a witch, tried by the Inquisitors' Court, and burned alive at the stake. Estimates of the death toll during the Inquisition worldwide range from the scholarly estimate of 1,450 to 1,700, to the popular estimates  which range from  600,000 to as high as 9,000,000 people -- mostly women (over its 250 year long course.) Any of these estimates is a chilling number.  Nearly all of the accused were women, and consisted primarily of outcasts and other suspicious persons -- people wrongfully convicted of heresy, non-conformists, old women, midwives, herbalist, Jews, poets, gypsies, women perceived as having 'powers' for community leadership -- anyone who did not conform to the contemporary view of pious Christian life was suspect and easily branded a Witch ... usually to devastating effect.
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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/02 06:23:24 (permalink)
    Execution by burning
    Execution by burning has a long history as a method of punishment for crimes such as treason, heresy, and witchcraft (burning, however, was actually less common than hanging, pressing, or drowning as a punishment for witchcraft). This method of execution fell into disfavour among governments in the late 18th century; today, it is considered cruel and unusual punishment. The particular form of execution by burning in which the condemned is bound to a large stake is more commonly called burning at the stake. According to the Talmud, the "burning" mentioned in the Bible was done by melting lead and pouring it down the convicted person's throat, causing immediate death.

    Burning of three witches in Baden.

    Cause of death by burning at the stake
    If the fire was large (for instance, when a large number of prisoners were executed at the same time), death often came from the carbon monoxide poisoning before flames actually caused harm to the body. However, if the fire was small, the convict would burn for some time until death from heatstroke, loss of blood plasma, and shock. The typical depictions of burnings show that the executioner would arrange a pile of wood around the condemned's feet and calves, with supplementary small bundles of sticks and straw called faggots at strategic intervals up his/her body.

    Unless the authorities were particularly vindictive against a prisoner, family and friends could bring additional faggots to make the death more "humane". It seems however, that these depictions may not be entirely representative of how such executions were normally carried out; some sources state that it was more normal for the stake to be at the centre of a large ring or pile of wood with a gap left for the condemned to be led to the stake. Once they were tied to the stake and the gap filled with wood, the condemned would be hidden from sight. The famous depiction of St Joan of Arc execution is factually incorrect in that it shows her atop a pile of wood and straw, whereas in fact she was burnt in the manner described.

    Joan of Arc

    When applied with skill, the prisoner's skin would burn progressively in the sequence: calves, thighs and hands, torso and forearms, breasts, upper chest, face; and then finally death. On other occasions, people died from suffocation with only their calves on fire.
    Several records report that victims took up to two or more hours to die. Joan of Arc had to be burned three times to successfully end her life and her body suffered horrific damage from the fire before she finally expired.
    In many burnings, a rope was attached to the convict's neck passing through a ring on the stake and they were simultaneously strangled and burnt. In later years in England, some burnings only took place after the convict had already hanged for a half-hour. In many areas in England the accused woman (men were hung, drawn, and quartered) was seated astride a small seat called the saddle which was fixed half way up a permanently positioned iron stake. The stake was about 4 meters high and had chains hanging from it to hold the condemned woman still during her punishment. Having been taken to the place of execution in a cart with her hands firmly tied in front of her she was lifted over the executioner's shoulder and carried up a ladder against the stake to be sat astride the saddle. The chains were then fastened and sometimes she was painted with pitch (a black tar-like oil) which was supposed to help the fire to burn her more quickly. As many of the women burned in this way in England were guilty of murdering their husbands (divorce was not available to the middle and poorer classes) the expression "being saddled with a bad husband" arose. The woman was either saddled (stuck) with him or saddled (burned at the stake) if she murdered him.
    Joan of Arc
    In some Nordic and German burnings, convicts had containers of gunpowder tied to them or were tied to ladders and then swung into fully burning bonfires. A container of gunpowder tied at the neck might be used to bring about a quicker and thus more merciful death since the condemned would suffer only until the gunpowder was heated enough to explode. Some prisoners refused this for personal reasons.  This was just as well as gunpowder only explodes when it is held in a confined space, preferring to burn violently if the gaseous pressure is allowed to escape. Using this method would more often than not have resulted in more suffering for the condemned. 

    Burning of two sodomites at the stake outside Zürich, 1482 (Spiezer Schilling)
    Historical Usage
    The story of Tamar and Judah in the book of Genesis suggests that before the Torah was given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, the patriarch heading a tribe or clan could order a tribe member executed for sexual misconduct (though Tamar was not a member of Judah's tribe but rather his daughter-in-law).

    Perillos of Athens invented the Brazen bull, a hollow brass container where the condemned would be locked as a fire was set underneath. This would cause the metal to become red hot while the condemned slowly roasted to death. The bull was first used on Perillos, the bull's inventor; though he was released by the Tyrant Phalaris, the device continued to be used through ancient Greece and Rome.

    Burning was used as a means of execution in many ancient societies. According to ancient reports, Roman authorities executed many of the early Christiain martyrs by burning, sometimes by means of the tunica molesta, a flammable tunic.

    Also Rabbi Haninah ben Teradion, one of the Jewish Ten Martyrs executed for defying Emperor Hadrian's edicts against practice of the Jewish religion, is reported to have been burned at the stake. As narrated in the Talmud, ben Teradion was placed on a pyre of green brush; fire was set to it, and wet wool was placed on his chest to prolong the agonies of death. However, the executioner - moved by the Rabbi's proud and stoic stance amidst the fire - removed the wool and fanned the flame, thus accelerating the end, and then himself plunged into the flames.

    North American Indians often used burning as a form of execution, either against members of other tribes or against white settlers during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Roasting over a slow fire was a customary method.
    Under the Byzantine Empire, burning was introduced as a punishment for disobedient Zoroastrians, because of the belief that they worshipped fire.

    The Byzantine Emperor Justinian (r. 527-565) ordered death by fire, intestacy, and confiscation of all possessions by the State to be the punishment for heresy against the Christian faith in his Codex Iustiniani (CJ 1.5.), ratifying the decrees of his predecessors the Emperors Arcadius and Flavius Augustus Honorius.

    In 1184, the Roman Catholic Synod of Verona legislated that burning was to be the official punishment for heresy, as Church policy was against the spilling of blood. It was also believed that the condemned would have no body to be resurrected in the Afterlife. This decree was later reaffirmed by the Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215, the Synod of Toulouse in 1229, and numerous spiritual and secular leaders through the 17th century.

    Civil authorities burned persons judged to be heretics under the medieval Inquisition, including Giordano Bruno. Burning was also used by Protestants during the witch-hunts of Europe.

    Among the best-known individuals to be executed by burning were Jacques de Molay (1314), Jan Hus (1415), St Joan of Arc (May 30, 1431), Savonarola (1498) Patrick Hamilton (1528), William Tyndale (1536), Michael Servetus (1553), Giordano Bruno (1600), and Avvakum (1682). Anglican martyrs Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley (both in 1555), and Thomas Cranmer (1556) were also burned at the stake.

    In Denmark the burning of witches increased following the reformation of 1536. Christian IV of Denmark especially encouraged this practice, which eventually resulted in hundreds of people burned because of convictions of witchcraft. This special interest of the king also resulted in the North Berwick witch trials with caused over seventy people to be accused of witchcraft in Scotland on account of bad weather when James I of England, who shared the Danish kings interest in witch trials, in 1590 sailed to Denmark to meet his betrothed Anne of Denmark.

    Edward Wightman, a Baptist from Burton on Trent, was the last person to be burned at the stake for heresy in England in the market square of Lichfield, Staffordshire on April 11, 1612.

    Woman burned at the stake for the murder
    of her husband, near Ipswich, April 8, 1763.
    The court permitted her to be strangled first.
    In the United Kingdom, the traditional punishment for women found guilty of treason was to be burned at the stake, where they did not need to be publicly displayed naked, while men were hanged, drawn and quartered. There were two types of treason, high treason for crimes against the Sovereign, and petty treason for the murder of one's lawful superior, including that of a husband by his wife.
    In England, only a few witches were burned, the majority were hanged, possibly as a cost saving exercise and possibly because of the risk that the general public would not tolerate frequent use of such a barbaric punishment.
    Sir Thomas Malory, in "Le Morte d'Arthur", depicts King Arthur as being reluctantly constrained to order the burning of Queen Guinevere, once her adultery with Lancelot was revealed - suggesting that this was an inflexible and unalterable law. This might be related to the above, as a Queen's adultery might be construed as treason against her royal husband. Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard Henry the Eight's wives were both condemned to be burned alive or beheaded for adultery as the king's pleasure should be known.One of Catherine's cousins keen to avoid any taint from her adulterous treason urged Henry to have the burning carried out but luckily for Catherine even Henry would not go so far. Lady Jane Grey the nine days queen was also condemned to burn as a heretic but it was commuted to beheading. Mary Stewart Queen of Scots was condemned to be beheaded or burned for murdering her husband.
    In 1790, Sir Benjamin Hammett introduced a bill into Parliament to end the practice. He explained that the year before, as Sheriff of London, he had been responsible for the burning of Catherine Murphy, found guilty of counterfeiting, but that he had allowed her to be hanged first.
    He pointed out that as the law stood, he himself could have been found guilty of a crime in not carrying out the lawful punishment and, as no woman had been burned alive in the kingdom for over fifty years, so could all those still alive who had held an official position at all of the previous burnings. The act was duly passed by Parliament and given royal assent by King George III (30 George III. C. 48).

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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/08 14:31:19 (permalink)
    On January 2 in 533 - Mercurius becomes Pope John II, the first pope to adopt a new name upon elevation to the papacy.

    Pope John II
    (born Mercurius) was pope from 533 to 535.

    He was the son of a certain Projectus, born in Rome and a priest of the Basilica di San Clemente on the Caelian Hill. The basilica of St. Clement still retains several memorials of "Johannes surnamed Mercurius". Presbyter Mercurius is found on a fragment of an ancient ciborium, and several of the marble slabs which enclose the schola cantorum bear upon them, in the style of the sixth century, the monogram of Johannes.

    Pope John II
    He was the first pope to adopt a new name (regnal name) upon elevation to the papacy, as his theophoric birth name honoured the Roman god Mercury.

    At this period simony (the purchase or sale of church offices or preferment) in the election of popes and bishops was rife among clergy and laity. During the sede vacante before the election of John II there was a vacancy of over two months, during which "shameless trafficking in sacred things was indulged in. Even sacred vessels were exposed for sale".

    The matter had been brought before the Senate, and laid before the Arian Ostrogothic Court at Ravenna. As a result the last decree (Senatus Consultum) which the Roman Senate is known to have issued, passed under Boniface II, was directed against simony in papal elections. The decree was confirmed by Athalaric, king of the Ostrogoths. He ordered it to be engraved on marble, and to be placed in the atrium of St. Peter's (533). By one of Athalaric's own additions to the decree, it was decided, that if a disputed election was carried before the Gothic officials of Ravenna by the Roman clergy and people, three thousand solidi would have to be paid into court. This sum was to be given to the poor. John remained on good terms with Athalaric, who, being of the Arian Christianity, was content to refer to John's tribunal all actions brought against the Roman clergy.

    The Liber Pontificalis records that the following year John obtained valuable gifts as well as a profession of orthodox faith from the Byzantine emperor Justinian I the Great, a significant accomplishment in light of the strength of Monophysitism in the Byzantine Empire at that time.

    The notorious adulterous behavior of Contumeliosus, Bishop of Riez in Provence, caused John to order the bishops of Gaul to confine him in a monastery; until a new bishop should be appointed, he bade the clergy of Riez obey the Bishop of Arles.

    Two hundred and seventeen bishops assembled in a council at Carthage (535) submitted to John II whether bishops who had lapsed into Arianism should, on repentance keep their rank or be admitted only to lay communion. The question of readmittance to the lapsed troubled north Africa for centuries: see Novatianism and Donatism. The answer to their question was given by Agapetus, as John II died May 8, 535. He was buried in Saint Peter's Basilica.

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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/08 14:32:05 (permalink)

    On January 3 in 1521 - Pope Leo X excommunicates Martin Luther in the papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem.
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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/08 14:33:00 (permalink)
    January 5 is the feast day of Pope Telesphorus
    Pope Telesphorus was pope from 126 or 127 to 137 or 138, during the reigns of Roman Emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. He was Greek by birth.

    The writer Irenaeus says that Telesphorus suffered martyrdom. In the Roman Martyrology his feast is given under January 5.  The Greek Church celebrates it on February 22.

    The tradition of Christmas midnight masses, the celebration of Easter on Sundays, the keeping of a seven-week Lent before Easter and the singing of the Gloria are usually attributed to his pontificate, but many historians doubt that such attributions are accurate.

    The Carmelites venerate Telesphorus as patron saint of the order since some sources depict him as a hermit living on Mount Carmel. The town of Saint-Télesphore, in the southwestern part of  Canada's Quebec province, is named after him.

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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/08 14:34:26 (permalink)
    Born January 7 in 1502 - Pope Gregory XIII 

    Pope Gregory XIII (1502-1585), born Ugo Boncompagni, was Pope from 1572 to 1585.

    Pope Gregory XIII


    He was born in Bologna, where he studied law and graduated in 1530. Afterwards, he taught jurisprudence for some years. His students included notable figures such as Alexander Farnese, Reginald Pole and Charles Borromeo.

    Career before Papacy
    At the age of thirty-six he was summoned to Rome by Pope Paul III (1534–1549), under whom he held successive appointments as first judge of the capital, abbreviator, and vice-chancellor of the Campagna.  By Pope Paul IV (1555–1559) he was attached as datarius to the suite of Cardinal Carafa.  By Pope Pius IV (1559–1565) he was created cardinal priest and sent to the council of Trent.

    He also served as a legate to Philip II of Spain (1556–1598), being sent by the Pope to investigate the Cardinal of Toledo. It was here that he formed a lasting and close relationship with the Spanish King, which was to become a very important during his foreign policy as Pope.

    Election as Pope

    Upon the death of Pope Pius V (1566–1572), the conclave chose Cardinal Boncompagni, who assumed the name of Gregory XIII, in homage to the great reforming Pope, Gregory I (590–604), surnamed the Great. It was a very brief conclave, lasting less than 24 hours, presumed by many historians to have been due to the influence and backing of the Spanish King. His character seemed to be perfect for the needs of the church at the time. Unlike some of his predecessors, Gregory XIII was to lead a faultless personal life, becoming a model for his simplicity of life. Additionally, his legal brilliance and management abilities meant that he was able to respond and deal with the major problems quickly and decisively, although not always successfully.


    Reform of the Church
    Once in the chair of Saint Peter, Gregory XIII's rather worldly concerns became secondary and he dedicated himself to reform of the Catholic Church. He committed himself to putting into practice the recommendations of the Council of Trent. He allowed no exceptions for cardinals to the rule that bishops must take up residence in their sees, and designated a committee to update the Index of Forbidden Books. A new and greatly improved edition of the Corpus juris canonici was also due to his concerned patronage. In a time of considerable centralisation of power, Gregory XIII abolished the Cardinals Consistories, replacing them with Colleges, and appointing specific tasks for these colleges to work on. He was renowned for having a fierce independence; with the few confidants noting there were interventions that were not always welcomed nor advice sought for. The power of the papacy increased under him, whereas the influence and power of the Cardinals substantially decreased.

    Formation of clergy and promotion of the arts and sciences
    A central part of the strategy of Gregory XIII's reform was to apply the recommendations of Trent. He was a liberal patron of the recently formed Society of Jesus throughout Europe, for which he founded many new colleges. The Roman College, of the Jesuits, grew substantially under his patronage, and became the most important centre of learning in Europe for a time, a University of the Nations. It is now named the Pontifical Gregorian University. Pope Gregory XIII also founded numerous seminaries for training priests, beginning with the German College at Rome, and put them in the charge of the Jesuits.

    Coat of arms of Pope Gregory XIII
    In 1575 he gave official status to the Congregation of the Oratory a community of priests without vows, dedicated to prayer and preaching (founded by Saint Filippo Neri).

    The Gregorian Calendar
    Gregory XIII is best known for his reformation of the calendar, producing the Gregorian calendar with the aid of Jesuit priest/astronomer Christopher Clavius. It was invented in Rome, Italy. The reason for the reform is that the average length of the year in the Julian Calendar was too long, and the date of the actual Vernal Equinox had slowly slipped to March 10, whereas the computus (calculation) of the Easter date of Easter still followed the traditional date of March 21.

    This was rectified by following the observations of Clavius and Johannes Kepler, and the calendar was changed when Pope Gregory XIII decreed that the day after October 4, 1582 would be October 15, 1582. He issued the papal bull Inter gravissimas to promulgate the new calendar on February 24, 1582. On October 15, 1582, this calendar replaced the Julian calendar, in use since 45 BC, and has become universally used today.

    The switchover was bitterly opposed by much of the populace, who feared it was an attempt by landlords to cheat them out of a week and a half's rent. However, the Catholic countries of Spain, Portugal, Poland, and Italy complied. France, some states of the Dutch Republic and various Catholic states in Germany and Switzerland (both countries were religiously split) followed suit within a year or two, and Hungary followed in 1587.

    Because of the Pope's decree, the reform of the Julian calendar came to be known as the Gregorian calendar. However, the rest of Europe did not follow suit for more than a century. Denmark, the remaining states of the Dutch Republic, and the Protestant states of the Holy Roman Empire and Switzerland adopted the Gregorian reform in 1700-1701. By this time, the calendar trailed the seasons by 11 days. Great Britain (and its American colonies) finally followed suit in 1752, and Wednesday, September 2, 1752 was immediately followed by Thursday, September 14, 1752.  They were joined by the last Protestant holdout, Sweden, on March 1, 1753.

    The Gregorian Calendar was not accepted in eastern Christendom for several hundred years, and then only as the civil calendar. The Gregorian Calendar was instituted in Russia by the communists in 1917. The last Eastern Orthodox country to accept the calendar was Greece in 1923.

    While some Eastern Orthodox national churches have accepted the Gregorian Calendar dates for "fixed" feasts (feasts that occur on the same date every year), the dates of all movable feasts (such as Easter) are still calculated in the Eastern Orthodox Churches by reference to the Julian Calendar.

    Foreign policy
    Though he expressed the conventional fears of the danger from the Turks, Gregory XIII's attentions were more consistently directed to the dangers from the Protestants.

    He encouraged the plans of Phillip II to dethrone Elizabeth I of England (1558–1603) thus succeeded in developing an atmosphere of subversion and imminent danger among English Protestants, who looked on any Roman Catholic as a potential traitor.

    In 1578, to further the plans of exiled English and Irish catholics such as Nicholas Sanders William Cardinal Allen and James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald, Gregory outfitted adventurer Thomas Stukeley with a ship and an army of 800 men to land in Ireland to aid the Desmond Rebellions of Fitzmaurice. To his dismay Stukeley joined his forces with those of King Sebastian of Portugal against Emperor Abdul Malik of Morocco instead. Another papal expedition sailed to Ireland in 1579 under the command of Fitzmaurice, accompanied by Sanders as papal legate. The resulting Second Desmond Rebellion was equally unsuccessful. Gregory XIII had no connection with the plot of Henry, Duke of Guise, and his brother, Charles, Duke of Mayenne, to assassinate Elizabeth I in 1582, and most probably knew nothing about it beforehand.

    A shameful moment for the Papacy was the Massacre of Huguenots in France, although it is commonly held that the Pope was ignorant of this at the time. He celebrated the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacres in 1572 with a Te Deum, three frescoes depicting the events in the Sala Regia of the Vatican Palace commended to painter Giorgio Vasari and a commemorative medal, with his portrait and on the obverse a chastising angel, sword in hand and the legend UGONOTTORUM STRAGES ("Slaughter of the Huguenots ") Note 53.

    Cultural patronage

    In Rome Gregory XIII built the magnificent Gregorian chapel in the Basilica of Saint Peter, and extended the Quirinal Palace in 1580. He also turned the Baths of Diocletian into a granary in 1575.

    He appointed his illegitimate son Giacomo, born to his mistress at Bologna before his papacy, castellan of St. Angelo and gonfalonier of the Church. Venice, anxious to please, enrolled him among its nobles. Philip II of Spain appointed him general in his army. Gregory also helped his son to become a powerful feudatary through the acquisition of the Duchy of Sora, on the border between the Papal States and the Kingdom of Naples.

    In order to raise funds for these and similar objects, he confiscated a large proportion of the houses and properties throughout the states of the Church – a measure which enriched his treasury, indeed, for a time, but by alienating the great body of the nobility and gentry, revived old factions, created new ones, and ultimately plunged his temporal dominions into a state bordering upon anarchy. Such was the position of matters at the time of Gregory XIII's death, which took place on April 10, 1585.

    Gregory XIII was succeeded by Pope Sixtus V (1585–1590).

    The oldest Papal tiara still in existence dates from the reign of Gregory XIII.

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    RE: Papal History 2009/01/11 13:54:43 (permalink)
    Dear friends

    Pope Gregory XIII's papacy from 1572 to 1585 rests at the front end of a literary and philosphical debate that raged for more than three centuries -- mostly among men -- about the intellectual and amorous capabilities of women.  The debate is most often known by its French name, La Querelle des Femmes -- ie The Women's Quarrel. It is also known as The Debate Over Women or The Women's Question. 
    The debate was a long continuous literary battle between authors who attacked women and those who defended them. It erupted in fifteeth- and sixteenth- century Europe and lasted for three centuries,  It raged in all European countries and in many languages. The written texts reflect the serious or joculatory discussions that took place in universities, literary circles, church gatherings and in the homes of the upperclasses.

    Scholars, theologians, merchants, and others fiercely debated the role of women in society.  Should they be educated? Should they participate in politics? Should they own property? Should they be cloistered in convents? Should they be able to appear in court? Should there be restrictions upon their clothing, their speech, their travel, or their sexuality?  These were not a casual questions—much like contemporary debates over equal-pay-for-equal-work, glass ceilings in boardrooms, abortion right -- the answers went to the heart of society’s traditions and institutions. Thus the Querelle des Femmes might centre on a very specific issue like, "Should our town brothel be closed?" or on a much broader question like, "Should girls attend school?"  It is customary to see this question emerging out of the Renaissance and Reformation, and being explored more fully during the Enlightenment, but there is no clear-cut chronology. 

    In England, the querelle des femmes focused on the issue of women as rulers. Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of HENRY VIII, had Spanish humanist Juan Luis Vives's Instruction of a Christian Woman (1523) translated for her daughter, the future Mary I.  The book concluded that Mary should not govern because women are weak. Scholar Thomas Elyot countered Vives's claims in The Defence of Good Women (1540), arguing that women can rule as well as men, but they should do so only under special circumstances.

    Protestant preacher John Knox (a Calvinist theologian) renewed the attack on female rule in First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. Written while Catholic women ruled France, Scotland, and England, the book did not appear in print until 1558, after the Protestant queen Elizabeth I had assumed the throne of England. Elizabeth's supporters were quick to respond to Knox, arguing that God had made Elizabeth queen because she was unlike other women.
    Elizabeth's rule also raised another issue for women of her day: the status of women in marriage. During the Renaissance, a woman's husband was her undisputed master. This fact provided a major reason for Elizabeth to stay single.

    By the end of the 1500s, most scholars agreed that virtue was the same for both men and women, and they focused on education as a way to bring equality to the sexes. The Dutch scholar Anna Maria van Schurman—one of the most educated women of her time—argued for the education of women in Whether a Christian Woman Should Be Educated (1638). In The Equality of Men and Women (1622), the French feminist Marie de Gournay declared that men and women could excel equally if they had the same education. She also mocked men for failing to take women seriously and to accept them as equals in a conversation. After 1650 social conversation between men and women began to be accepted in society.

    Our interest in  La Querelle des Femmes lies in the fact that many of the reasonings marshalled in the writings against women, or those in their favour, were theological arguments, arguments drawn from Sacred Scripture or from the Fathers of the Church. They provide interesting insights in the religious thinking of the time, and clearly show up the existing theological as well as cultural prejudices.

    In one of the documents in our library, we offer here a partial list, which we hope to expand in time. Some of these writings we publish in full on this website.  See here for more: http://www.womenpriests.org/traditio/list_qu.asp

    If you have any questions, please let me know.

    with love and blessings,

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