Tomb of the Warrior Pope

December 24, 2014

Pope Julius II

Giuliano della Rovere

r. 1503-1513

 

   Pope Julius II was an ambitious man whose quest for papal supremacy extended beyond his responsibility as the spiritual leader of Christianity. As one of the most powerful rulers of his age, he led military efforts to prevent French domination of Italy and restored order to the Papal States. Pope Julius II was Italy’s savior and his enthusiasm for engaging in battle earned him the moniker, "The Warrior Pope."

 

   In addition to his emperor like conquests and his duties as the leader of the Church, Julius II is the greatest art patron of the papal line and understood visual imagery had a high propagandistic value that could be used to reinforce the Catholic Church's authoritative supremacy. During his reign, he commissioned such masterpieces as Michelangelo’s ceiling frescos in the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s fresco rooms in the Palace of the Vatican and Bramante's complete redesign of Saint Peter's basilica where Julius II envisioned himself being buried.

 

   As the symbolic seat of the papacy, Saint Peter's represented the history of the Church and the structure had fallen into considerable disrepair. Given it's importance, Julius II carefully chose Donato D'Angelo Bramante as the architect for the colossal undertaking that would transform the old Saint Peter's into the grandest architectural design of 16th century Europe and make the Rome that existed during the reign of the popes reminiscent of the Rome that existed during the reign of the Caesars. 

 

   Bramante's vision for St Peter's shortened the transept and nave to four equal lengths to form a centralized Greek cross plan that symbolized sublime perfection and represented the Church rather than Christ's suffering.

 

Saint Peter's Plan View

Donato D'Angelo Bramante

Vatican, Rome, Italy, 1505

 

During Bramante's lifetime, the actual construction of the new Saint Peter's basilica did not advance beyond the building of the crossing piers and the lower choir walls. After his death, the work passed from one architect to another and finally to Michelangelo, whom Pope Paul III appointed in 1546 to complete the building. Not until the seventeenth century did the Church oversee the completion of Saint Peter's.

 

Saint Peter's Plan View

Michelango Buonarroti

Vatican, Rome, Italy, 1546

 

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Est. 1823

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Albany, New York

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