Continues from the previous post –
Rome's development and the 15th century Renaissance - continues
The temporal schemes of Julius II designed to serve Rome's best interest within the turmoil of Italy. By the time of his death, in 1513, that seems to have been largely achieved. Papal land has been recovered from the Venetians. The French have been driven from northern Italy. Nevertheless, a more lasting threat to the papacy is about to emerge in Germany prompted, ironically, by Julius's ambitious scheme for the rebuilding of St Peter's.
Present construction of St. Peter was designed by architect, Bramante, and that began in 1506. This construction continues until 1590 until his death; after Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, and several others succeeded him. Today this building is viewed as symbol of papal authority. Meanwhile the need for funds for the vast new project, together with the unscrupulous manner in which Renaissance popes are willing to raise those funds, provokes the great central crisis of Europe in the 16th century - the Reformation. The flash point proves to be Germany as usual.
To complete prestigious project of St. Peter, Popes broke all limits of morality and indulgence in most objectionable methods. Notable amongst them are those used by Albert, archbishop of Mainz and one of the seven imperial electors. Pope Leo makes it possible for Albert to recover his costs by granting him the concession for the sale of indulgences towards the building of St Peter's. Half the money for each indulgence will go to Rome; the other half will help to pay off Albert's debts (he has borrowed the money for the original donation from the Fuggers of Augsburg). Indulgence is a false promise that bishop gives to gullible faithful and in return collect some money or donations by way of compensation. This secret arrangement might distress the faithful if they knew of its falsity. However, more immediately shocking to some is the behavior of the friar Johann Tetzel, whom Albert employs to sell the indulgences.
Indulgence is remission from a punishment (probably by God) given to somebody for wrong or sinful acts. Church was collecting funds on that account!
Tetzel was a showman; when preaching to gullible crowds in German towns he goes far beyond the official doctrine of indulgences. He promises the immediate release of loved ones from the pain of Purgatory as soon as a purchase is made. He even has a catchy jingle to make the point, for example:
'As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from Purgatory springs.'
In October 1517, some parishioners return to Wittenberg with indulgences, which they have bought from Tetzel - indulgences so powerful, some have been led to believe, that they could pardon a man who had raped the Virgin Mary. News of this travesty reaches the ears of a professor at the University of Wittenberg.
The Renaissance Papacy is known for its artistic and architectural patronage, forays into European power politics, and theological challenges to papal authority. After the start of the Protestant Reformation, the Reformation Papacy and Baroque Papacy led the Catholic Church through the Counter-Reformation.
Continues in the next post –
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