Tag Archives: cardinal

Cardinal Borghese (1576 – 1633), Patron of Homoerotc Art

b. 1 September 1577
d. 2 October 1633

 The name “Borghese” will be familiar to many art lovers and tourists in Italy from the name “Villa Borghese”, the palace which was designed by the architect Flaminio Ponzo from sketches by Cardinal Borghese himself, and which housed his impressive art collection.

 The mere existence of this collection and its magnificence poses important questions about the institutional Catholic Church. What does this vast wealth that this collection represented, have to do with pastoral care, outreach to the poor, or preaching the Gospels? The questions become even murkier in the light of its manner of acquisition:

   In 1607, the Pope gave the Cardinal 107 paintings which had been confiscated from the studio of the painter Cavalier D’Arpino. In the following year, Raphael’s Deposition was removed by force from the Baglioni Chapel in the church of San Francesco in Perugia and transported to Rome to be given to the Cardinal Scipione through a papal motu proprio.

At this site, however, I am not interested in exploring the iniquities of the historical church. Instead, what interests me here is the nature of the artists and the works in the collection. Several commentaries of the collection note its substantial number of clearly homoerotic works, and he bestowed direct patronage on several well -known homosexual artists – Caravaggio the best-known among them.

He was also implicated in numerous scandals around his homosexual interests, including a close friendship with one Stefano Pignatelli, who acquired such a strong influence over Borghese that the Pope banished him entirely. Borghese thereupon fell into a long and serious illness, from which he only recovered once his dear friend was eventually allowed to return.

Pope Paul V then made the best of a bad job with Pignatelli, and made him a cardinal.
Although the implications are clear, and contemporary allegations plentiful, there appears to be little hard evidence for a specifically sexual relationship between Borghese and Pignatelli. If there was such a relationship  though, Pignatelli will not have been the first to owe his cardinal’s red hat to sexual favours granted.

This is how it is described in Aldrich & Wetherspoon, “Who’s Who in Gay and Lesbian History from Antiquity to WWII”

He was adopted by his uncle who, when became pope with the name Paul V, made him Cardinal at age 29. His uncle’s favour allowed Borgese to accumulate an immense fortune, which he used to acquire which he used to acquire the vast land-holdings where he built Villa Borghese, now one of the most important Museums in Rome.

Scipione was oriented towards his own sex, and this led to full-blown scandals. In 1605, soon after being made a cardinal, Borghese wanted to bring to Rome Stefano Pignattelli, his intimate “friend”.

Paul V compelled Stefano to move out of Shipone’s house, but the cardinal doubled his love for his friend and succumbed to a severe melancholy which resuletd in a long and serious illness. Only when Stefano was allowed to return to Rome to look after Scipione, did the cardinal recover.

Shipione’s uncle the pope, thereupon decided that in order to keep a check on Pignattelli he must co-opt, rather than combat, him. He had Stefano ordained, the beginning of a carreer which led to his becoming a cardinal in 1621. But Stefano died in 1623. Scipione died ten years later.

 

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Berlin Cardinal Re-Affirms His Support for Lesbian and Gay Relationships

Cardinal Rainer Woelki of Berlin has re-affirmed his support for same-sex relationships which he made at a German conference of Catholic lay people back in May.

London’s Tablet magazine, an international Catholic periodical, reports:

“The Church must rethink its approach to remarried divorcees and gay relationships, the world’s youngest cardinal has said.

“Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, 55, made his comments in an interview with the German weekly Die Zeit and said that while the Orthodox Church considers only the first marriage sacramentally valid, divorce and a second marriage is tolerated. Asked whether this could be a model for the Catholic Church, he replied that the Church should talk about it.

Commenting on gay men in relationships he said he tried not to see them as just violating natural law but as people trying to take responsibility for each other in lasting partnerships. ‘We must find a way of allowing people to live without going against church teaching,’ he said.”

– more at  New Ways/ Bondings 2.0.

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Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte (1549 – 1627)

b. 5 July 1549
d. 27 August 1627

Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte, full name Francesco Maria Borbone Del Monte Santa Maria was an Italian cardinal, diplomat and connoisseur of the arts, who is best remembered for his patronage of the artist Caravaggio, and other baroque artists. He served as Prefect of the Tridentine Council 1606-1616 and had (unsuccessful) ambitions of being elected Pope at the conclave of 1621. Art historians such as Posener, Frommer and Hibbard have drawn upon extant documents (principally the correspondence of Dirk van Ameyden) that suggest the strong likelihood that he was homosexual and this may have influenced his tastes in the art he commissioned, as well as damaging his prospects of assuming the papacy, Van Ameyden claiming that he displayed more than a paternal care for the boys in his charge.

Quite apart from his personal sexual proclivities, Cardinal Del Monte is just one of a series of popes and Italian Cardinals from around this period who patronized homosexual artists, and contributed to the extensive collection of frankly homoerotic art in the Vatican.

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Cardinal Francis Jopseph Spellman

b. May 4, 1889
d. December 2, 1967

Born at Whitman, Massachusetts, he became priest in 1916 in the North American College of Rome. He was parish priest in Roxbury then in Boston. He edited the magazine The Pilot. He worked at the State Secretary of the Vatican (11925-32), then was nominated bishop of Boston and later Archbishop of New York. In 1946 he was nominated Cardinal.

He was a major figure in American politics during the first half of the Cold War, and a kingmaker in New York City politics; subject of the 1984 by John Cooney, The American Pope: The Life and Times of Francis Cardinal Spellman.
The details of Spellman’s personal life are elusive. The Cardinal was known as “Telma” or “Franny” Spellman in some circles and was rumored to enjoy an active sexual and social life in New York City, with a particular fondness for Broadway musicals and their chorus boys. It was widely rumoured, for instance, that he attended a party with that other well-known closet case, J Edgar Hoover – in drag.
His biographer notes that many interviewees “took his homosexuality for granted” but has not documented his relationships. It is likely that Spellman engaged in an active yet deeply closeted life, much like that of his close personal friend Roy Cohn.
The archconservative Spellman was the epitome of the self-loathing, closeted, evil queen, working with his good friend, the closeted gay McCarthy henchman Roy Cohn, to undermine liberalism in America during the 1950s’ communist and homosexual witch hunts. The church has squelched Spellman’s not-so-secret gay life quite successfully, most notably by pressuring The New York Times to don the drag of the censor back in the 1980s. The Times today may be out front exposing every little nasty detail in the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal–a testament to both the more open discussion of such issues today and the church’s waning power in New York–but not even 20 years ago the Times was covering up Spellman’s sexual secrets many years after his death, clearly fearful of the church’s revenge if the paper didn’t fall in line. (During Spellman’s reign and long afterward, all of New York’s newspapers in fact cowered before the Catholic Church. On Spellman’s orders New York’s department stores–owned largely by Catholics–pulled ads from the then-liberal New York Post in the 1950s after publisher Dorothy Schiff wrote commentary critical of his right-wing positions; Schiff was forced to back down on her positions.)
In the original bound galleys of former Wall Street Journal reporter John Cooney’s Spellman biography, The American Pope… Spellman’s gay life was recounted in four pages that included interviews with several notable individuals who knew Spellman as a closeted homosexual. Among Cooney’s interview subjects was C.A. Tripp…
In a telephone interview with Tripp last week, he told me that his information came from a Broadway dancer in the show One Touch of Venus who had a relationship with Spellman back in the 1940s; the prelate would have his limousine pick up the dancer several nights a week and bring him back to his place. When the dancer once asked Spellman how he could get away with this, Tripp says Spellman answered, “Who would believe that?”
Signorile, Michelangelo,”Cardinal Spellman’s Dark Legacy

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Cardinal Carlo Carafa, gay cardinal.

b. 29 March 1517
d. 6 March 1561

Born in Naples, Carafa was the younger son in a powerful noble family. He became a soldier and for seventeen years took part in the bloody wars which ravaged Italy, first on the side of the Habsburg imperial armies, afterwards with French troops.

His uncle, Gian Piero Carafa was elected pope, with the name of Paul VI, and made Carlo a cardinal in 1555.

He had a long and dubious career as a mercenary soldier in Italy and Germany. He was exiled from Naples for murder and banditry and was alleged to have perpetrated the massacre of Spanish soldiers as they recuperated in a hospital in Corsica. His tenure as Cardinal Nephew was not a great success as he and Paul IV brought the Papacy to a humiliating defeat against the Spanish that nearly resulted in another Sack of Rome. Carlo’s government was unpopular in Rome and he developed a reputation for avarice, cruelty and licentiousness, as well as for sodomy.

For instance the cardinal Charles de Lorraine asked the French ambassador in Rome to report to the pope scandals concerning his nephews. In his letter he stated that the courtiers had been scandalized by what they had witnessed, “and among the culprits were openly numbered, those who were closest in blood relations to our Holy Father the pope” had engaged in “that sin so loathsome in which there is no longer a distinction between the male and the female sex.”

These rumors cannot be explained away as political slander. Already the poet Joachim du Bellay who was then in Rome, wrote a sonnet mentioning one Ascanio as the beloved of Carlo Carafa. At first the pope refused to believe the numerous and varied accusations, but he was finally convinced of their veracity, and replaced Carlo as Cardinal Nephew with Carlo’s own nephew Alfonso Carafa.

With the death of Paul IV, who had already limited a part of his power, he was imprisoned and judged by the new pope, Pius IV , for a lengthy series of crimes ranging from homicide to heresy, which also included  sodomy. Carlo was condemned and executed.

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