The Election of the “Warrior Pope” Julius II
Today marks the anniversary of the election of Giuliano della Rovere to the papacy, whereupon he took the regnal name Pope Julius II. He would serve as Pope from his election in 1503 through his death in 1513.
While famously criticized by Erasmus of Rotterdam for his willingness to utilize force to protect the Church, including having led a papal army (it is often ignored that this action against the city of Bologna resulted in the city’s surrender; there was no battle and no loss of lifte or limb), Julius is famous for:
- · hiring Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel;
- · authorizing that the then entirely decrepit St. Peters Basilica, its fabric in many cases dating back to the fourth century, be torn down and the current St. Peters erected in place thereof;
- · hiring Michelangelo as an architect on the new St. Peters; and
- · hiring Raphael to paint various frescoes in the Vatican.
Also, it was Julius II who:
- · issued the dispensation allowing Henry VIII of England to marry the widow of his brother Arthur, namely Catherine of Aragon.
- · founded the Papal Swiss Guard.
While ultimately buried in the Vatican, his tomb, not completed until 1445, is in San Pietro in Vincoli. The famous statue of Moses featuring horns (consequent to poor translation of the original Hebrew into Latin by St. Jerome) is part of that tomb (actually a cenotaph).
The only modern biography is Julius II: The Warrior Pope by Christine Shaw.
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