Sunday, December 09, 2007

Lorenzo dé Medici and Rome

In the late 15th century, Italy was arriving at the pinnacle of the High Renaissance. This is the age and time of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. It is also the time of political philosopher Nicolo Machiavelli. All of these very talented people mentioned were natives of Florence, Italy. The chief politician of Florence at that time was Lorenzo dé Medici, he was known as the Lorenzo the Magnificent.

Lorenzo, though not holding official government office for most of his rule, was the de facto ruler and near dictator of Florence. Officially, Florence was a Republic, but Lorenzo had inherited his position from his father and his grandfather. He held on to to his power by subterfuge, bribes, ruthlessness, and other political arts.
Renaissance Italy was wrought with political intrigues and violence and Lorenzo flourished in this environment. One of his chief opponents, for a time, and after that one of his chief allies was none other than the Bishop of Rome (i.e. the Pope).

In the late 1470’s Pope Sixtus IV was involved in a plot to overthrow Lorenzo. The plot evolved into an attempt to assassinate Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano, though the Pope insisted that he did not know of the plot to kill the dé Medici brothers. The chief conspirators in the assination plot included several priest and also Francesco Salviati, Archbishop of Pisa. The plot failed, though Lorenzo’s was wounded, and his brother Giuliano was killed. The cleric assassins struck during mass at the cathedral in Florence.

Lorenzo and his followers struck back quickly. They caught and executed Archbishop Salviati and a number of other conspirators that same day. Then Florence went to war against the Pope, who was the earthly prince over the Papal States of central Italy.

After the death of Pope Sixtus IV, Innocent VIII became Pope. The war came to an end, and Lorenzo and Pope Innocent were on good and even friendly terms. As part of the new political alignment, Lorenzo gave his 14-year-old daughter to be wife of the Pope's 38-year-old illegitimate son (Francis).

Lorenzo had much clout with Pope Innocent VIII and he greatly desired a place in the church for his young son, Giovanni. After arranging for his daughter to marry the Pope's illegitimate son. He politicked with Innocent VIII to have young Giovanni made a prince in the church.

In 1488 Giovanni was made a priest, awarded a doctorate in canon law (though he had not yet studied the subject) and also made a Cardinal in the Church. In less than two months the 13-year-old Giovanni dé Medici went from being merely the second son of the tyrant ruler of Florence, to being a Cardinal in the Catholic Church. After these things took place, a good deal of money then passed from Lorenzo dé Medici’s bank to the Papacy.

The thirteen year old Cardinal Giovanni dé Medici would eventually become Pope Leo X. It was Leo X who was Pope when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the castle church door at Wittenberg, Germany which ignited the Protestant Reformation.

The High Renaissance was a time of great papal and church corruption. A glimpse of that corruption can be seen in this thumbnail sketch. Things were, at a number of points, much worse than what is seen here.

There was bound to be a reaction to the theological and political corruption that then existed at the center of the Western Church.

Coram Deo,


gallicman1 said...

Unfortunately you are right. The Renaissance brought much corruption in morals and culture. This realization is not a popular one for the modern man. The modern man thinks that the renaissance brought a sort of re birth, hence the name renaissance) ( renacimiento in Spanish, which means re birth)

Regrettably this rebirth did not mean rebirth in a Christian way but more in a neo pagan way. Learned mean began to study the occult (masonry). Universities began to study humanism and abandon scholasticism. Kings began to cross the line between church and state and appoint bishops, cardinals and Popes. It was a dismal time for Christendom.

The Turk was attacking central Europe and the Balkans. Luther, a disaffected priest who wanted to get married and could not attain perfection created a new religion. He and sought worldly Lords and princes to support his new faith.
These princes were only really interested in the frivolity and decadence off the renaissance, wanted a less strict religion to follow, and of course the wanted Church land to call their own.

Yes, Christianity was in chaos. The answer though was not creation of new doctrine but reaffirmation of apostolic theology, the sacrifice of the Mass, emphasis on the grace of the seven sacraments, and the removal of Princely politics out of the appointment of prelates.

Fortunately, this reformation was accomplished with the Council of Trent. This reformation would not illuminate the constant barrage of persecution the Church has witnessed against it. Some examples are the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and the Persecution in Ireland, the Republican wars against the Church in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the governmental war against the Catholics in Mexico in the 1920.

Cajun Huguenot said...

Hello Gallicman,

Glad to see your comment here too.

I agree with most of you comments completely, but you comments on Luther are not accurate. Luther had no desire to marry. He married only after his "Katherine" made it clear that she would marry no one but him. They did not know one another when Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg and their engagement came 8 years after the 1517 break with Rome.

When discussing the Reformation and counter-Reformation period, if we look at who did evil to whom, both Catholics and Protestants did plenty for us to be ashamed of. But if we do a tit-for-tat comparison, Rome and the Catholics look the worst, but neither side has much room to brag.

Coram Deo,

gallicman1 said...

Right, Catholics look the worst. Not because they were the most brutal but because Protestants continued their assault against the Church well into the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries. The English Protestants persecuted your people, not because they were French, but because they were Catholic. The English would have left your people in Acadia had they taken the oath to a Protestant King who claimed to be the head of the Church. Instead your people stood firm with Christ and were persecuted for it.

The Irish were continually persecuted on their own island because they would not accept Anglicanism.

The point isn't who did the most persecution. The question is who lost the most. Whole populations in Germany, Holland, Scandinavia and England were forced by their sovereigns to accept new doctrines from Protestants. For the most part the conversion to Protestantism was not voluntary. No one asked them if they accepted the new faith.
The fact is theses faiths were new, not apostolic.

It is a long story and certainly a story replete with polemics.

Essentially though the new faiths (plural because there are many) had elements of the apostolic faith but were new and were not founded by Christ. These are faiths that have lost 6 of their sacraments and valid priesthood.

This is not to say that descendant of the protestant is a bad person. Many are devout and sincere. The fact is the majority of them descend form common folk who were ordered by their sovereigns to adopt new customs, a new religion and new doctrine.

Cajun Huguenot said...

Hey Gallicman,

Thanks again, for the visit and comments. Again I agree with you on some points, but I disagree with many of the things you say.

The persecution on both sides were very real. French Catholics (specifically the Duke of Guise)started a series of religious wars in France by committing the Massacre at Vassy. He went to a Protestant community found the Protestants worshipping in a barn and let his soldiers loose on them.

The French Religious wars ended with the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in which French Catholics slaughtered tens of thousands of French Protestants and thousands more fled France to save their lives and the lives of their wives and children.

You are correct about my own Acadian ancestors. Their deportation and suffering was caused by religious bigotry of the New Englanders. But such religious intolerance is not a one way street.

It is a very broad two way super highway, but while the Protestant section is like two lanes, the Catholic side is at least three lane and more like four.

Catholics have declared Thomas More a saint because he was willing to die for his believe, but too often they forget about the many Protestants he caused to be burned at they stake while he was Lord Chancellor of England.

Catholics and Protestants both have heroes and martyrs from that time, but the Protestants who died for their understanding of the Christian faith, at the hands of Catholics was much greater.

Neither side should be proud of the of the harm done to the other because of religious intolerance.

In the area of theology we disagree also. I am a convert to Protestantism, who still attends Mass fairly often. I believe that Protestants and Catholics need to try and work together and see one another as brethren.

We have much in common, though we have very real differences also.

Coram Deo,

gallicman1 said...

At the risk of becoming annoying let me make a few more points. Firstly, let me say you seem to be a very sincere person and God bless you for that.

Secondly you stated you converted to Protestantism and still attend Catholic services. The fact is there is not much difference between many of the Protestant denominations and the new Catholic Church (Novus Ordo Missae). In fact the New Catholic Church has become so Protestant that 60 or more Anglican bishops want to join it. Not to say that any of theses Anglicans bishops are any more Roman Catholic as say Bishop Brom or Cardinal Mahoney in California.

I do not know how old you are but if you study the religion of Thomas More, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis de Sales you will find that their religion is fundamentally different from the Modern Church.

The modern Church believes in false ecumenism, believe that Moslems, Hindus, pagans etc all p4ray to the same god. The New Church believes that the Mass and doctrine much change with the times (Which is a false doctrine)

Incredible as it sounds 5 of the 7 sacraments have been compromised under the new consecrations which have been changed in intent, form and to some degree species.

Holy Mass has been changed from the bloodless sacrifice of Christ to the commemoration of the Last Supper. This is a great victory for Luther. Luther once stated that if he could destroy the Mass he could destroy the Catholic Church.

Additionally, the Pope rules through collegiality rather than decree. Bishops throughout the world can adjust Papal directive to meet their local liturgical needs. This was made possible through “Lumen Gentium”.

The once great “catholic” church has been reduced to national and provincial churches without a unified liturgy, language, faith and doctrine.

You may have noticed that there is not much difference between Catholic and Protestant services. Well this is why. The modern Church has become Protestant.

There is a tiny minority of Catholics that have found solace in the traditional rites of the Catholic Church. There are only a handful of these Catholics and fewer valid priests. This is the remnant of the Church of Christ.

If you are interested please visit my church page at:

CMRI’s page at:

Additional pages:

Scotty J. Williams said...

Wow, now we're getting into a some Acadian history? LOL. What is interesting is that Gallicman says that Luther created a new religion, but he misses the point of the context of the Reformation. Luther was not fighting against Catholicism as a whole, but he was fighting against a bad strand of scholasticism that had become dominant in the Catholic church of his day. Luther was also fighting against a Pelagian sect called the Via Moderna, which was also gaining prominence within the Catholic church; so what does Luther do to combat all these issues? He goes to St. Augustine for the answer, he turns to the church fathers, and most importantly he turns to Scripture which he does not read outside of tradition (so many people think that Sola Scriptura means no tradition in interpretation, but they are wrong). But as Luther went to the traditions of the fathers he found many innovations that were put into Catholic doctrine, and these innovations could not be supported by Scripture, tradition, or plain reason at that; so the logical conclusion is to throw such innovations out. I do agree that Luther jumped the gun on some things (especially his views of the Jewish people), but when you are constantly on the run and being persecuted by immoral men who are using clerical offices for personal gain and to oppress innocent people, then you would be a little upset too.

One more thing I would like to add is that your statements about Luther running to princes rather than "apostolic truth" is incorrect. The means by which Luther and the other magisterial Reformers brought about their reforms were the normal means of the day; if one wanted a religious reform they also went to the magistrate of their city. Even within later reforms within the Catholic church by St. Teresa of Avila, we see her going to the Spanish government at times to bring about her reforms, and it was a good thing that she did for much of the Catholic church was against her and persecuted her many times. Without the support of Spain's rulers part of me doubts if Teresa of Avila would have even had a chance of bringing about her reforms.

Well I've said enough for now,

Cajun Huguenot said...

Gallicman & Scotty,

Once more I do appreciate the comments y'all have made. Thanks for the kind words.

I am old enough to have attended Latin Mass before Vatican II came along. When I was young the priest's back was to the congregation and he was not facing the people as he does today.

The Church has had many changes through the centuries. A few years ago I read the letters written between St. Jerome and St. Augustine. Even in them Augustine complained about the changes in the then "new" Latin translation of St. Jerome. Augustine much preferred the Old Latin translation to the the new one, being translated by St. Jerome, which was used from then to modern times.

The Western Church in Luther and Calvin's day was in the most corrupt time in her history. The Bishop of Rome was a secular prince fighting secular wars of expansion. He was able to celebrate and commemorate the slaughter of tens of thousands of men, women and children in France who were killed because they had become Protestants.

Thomas More heartily approved and watched the burning alive of men simply because he had doctrinal differences with them. Etc, etc...

There was plenty of evil to go around. Protestants and Catholics alike participated in it. Popes approved and celebrated what everyone today would rightly call genocide and mass murder.

Before you thoroughly condemn Luther or Calvin, look at what they "protested against." There are very fine orthodox Catholic scholars who will support what I've written here.

More than one of the Renaissance Popes had bastard children (like Caesar Borgia) making war for them, etc...

Luther had many faults. I have very serious problems with him on many points, but the catalyst for his break with Rome was the gross, perverse actions of an indulgence salesman monk named Tetzel.

We have to see the good, bad and ugly of our common Western Chruch history.

Coram Deo,

Ps. You are always welcome and not the least bit annoying.

gallicman1 said...

With regards to St. Augustine,

The issue in not the language or the translation. This issue is that the character and more importantly the intent of the Mass has changed from the bloodless sacrifice to merely a commemoration. Regrettably, in the 16th and 17th centuries Protestant rid themselves of the sacrificial nature of the Mass and celebrated the Last Supper.

This means that we are not doing what Christ asked us to do. Christ asked us to "do this in memory or me". What does this mean? Does this mean we are to only pronounce the words that he used at the last Supper or was there something much more import happening at the Last Support?

Christ stated in Matt 26:26 And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body. 27 And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins. 29 And I say to you, I will not drink from henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father. 30 And a hymn being said, they went out unto mount Olivet. "

He did not say this is the figure of my body. He did not say this is the figure of my blood.

Christ essentially was offering himself up that night of the Last supper.

So what did he want us to do? He wanted us to repeat what he did. While we ourselves are not able to offer ourselves up like Christ did he meant that we should offer him up as he offered himself up. For what? For then expiation of sins.

'As Christ said:
John 6: 52 If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world.

Many of us have read these verses and realize that Christ was giving us his body and blood. What Protestants do not accept is that he continually makes available is body and blood to us for the forgiveness of sins through the authority he left to the Apostles.

Regrettably, the Protestants have lost these graces by the imposition of new doctrines on the faithful in Northern Europe in the 16th and 17thy centuries, the decedents of whom brought Protestantism to the shores of North America. Essserntiallyn many new little religions we created without apostolic authority.

Most alarming has been the Catholic Mass after 1969. Rome established a break with apostolic doctrine with regards to worship and doctrine. Rome established a new Mass that paralleled the Protestant interpretation that the mass is a celebration of the Last Super not a bloodless sacrifice while maintaining its belief in the real presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. Rome changed the words of Christ in the consecration thereby leaving great doubt to the validity of this sacrament in intent and form.

Cajun Huguenot said...

Hey Gallicman,

So as you understand things, you are not sure if an of us now truly recieve Christ in the Eucharist. Protestant because of the action of the 16th Century and Roman Catholics because of changes since Vatican II.

What of the Eastern Church? Are they 1,000 years removed from the grace we recieve through partaking of the Supper also?

On this point I can assure you that we disagree.

I do believe that I partake of Christ when I eat the bread and drink the wine of Communion. I believe this is true when I receive the Eucharist at the PCA church. This true when I partake of the Supper when I worship at the Episcopal church, etc...

Coram Deo,

gallicman1 said...

This is news to me. You are saying that Protestants belie that Christ is really present in the Eucharist. Why was it common practice for Protestant armies that sacked Churches to also desecrate the Host? Are you saying that modern Protestants believe this or were 16th century Protestant armies bad Protestants?

Forgive my ignorance but I understood Protestants to believe that the Eucharist was only symbolically Christ as they believe in consubstantiation not transubstantiation. Belief that Christ is the Host is to believe that when we eat this bread we are taking His body, which means He is the bread.

I am willing to contend that due to semantics, the frailty of human understanding and deficiency in human language that we may not be able to truly convey the relationship that Christ has with the bread, be it transubstantiation or consubstantiation. The Church though has revealed the belief in transubstantiation not consubstantiation and this is the definition I am comfortable as it is an apostolic teaching.

However, in order for a man to do as Christ instructed and perform the bloodless sacrifice for the expiation of sins he must be commissioned by Christ. The Apostles were thusly commissioned. They in turn ordained bishops who ordained more and who from the time of the apostles formed an unbroken chain of valid priests. This even applies to Orthodox Christians as their sacraments are licit yet schismatic.

The Protestants though broke with a “catholic priest hood” and therefore have no commission directly from Christ and or the Apostles.

Case in poin:, Luther. Luther was a valid priest and was able to perform the sacrifice of the Mass. He subsequently redefined the Mass. Additionally, as Luther was not a Bishop he never had full faculties of full priesthood (a priests derives his priestly powers from his bishop through incardination). Since Luther was not incardinated, was not a bishop he not only lost his priestly powers but also was unable to convey the priesthood since he was not a bishop. Therefore any ordination he did perform was invalid and non apostolic. Without writing a book, this is why a Lutheran Minister does not have an Apostolic Commission and valid priesthood to perform the bloodless sacrifice of the Mass. Nor do they have the right to consecrate a valid Eucharist (how ever way you wish to explain the “true presence”).

Another case is the invalid priestly orders of the Anglican from which the Presbyterians, Methodists, and Episcopalians come from. First and most important is that Anglican priests derive their right to perform their ministry from the secular authority of the British Royal House. Initially, with the House of Tudor, then Stuart, then I believe the House of Windsor on down the current Queen Elizabeth of England. The Queen is the head of the Church! Yes, yes they have the Bishop of Canterbury, but the Church of England is wholly subject to Parliament and the Queen. How is this Apostolic?

Additionally, with regards to their orders (as someone could argue the Church of England is schismatic and therefore licit with regards to their Sacraments). The fact is as that Holy Orders were change so that their priests were no longer ordained to offer the sacrifice of the Mass, nor forgive sins. Calvinism revamped the English priesthood into protestant ministry priesthood devoid of apostolic succession and sacraments save baptism. I believe it was during the reign of Queen Victoria that a movement developed at Oxford to reexamine England’s priesthood and attempted to move back to orthodoxy. It was too late as they had lost their valid priesthood.

This is not to say that the modern day Protestant is not a good person. Most are very devout and sincere. They are inheritors, though, of radical new doctrines which separated them from orthodox doctrines relating to the nature of the priesthood, the bloodless sacrifice of Holy Mass, and the Eucharist.

Cajun Huguenot said...

Hello Gallicman,

Thanks again for your comments. I'm sorry its taken me so long to respond but I've been working a lot of overtime (OT) since your last comment and I haven't had time to respond. I'm still working a lot of OT (I'm working 84 hours this week) so my comments won't be detailed.

You have confused a number of things in your post. A symbolic understanding of the Eucharist is more a Baptist thing and consubstantiation is the Lutheran view (though they reject their view being called that). Baptist deny Christ presents in the Eucharist while Lutherans strongly believe in Christ presence in the Supper. Transubstantiation is only one possible explanation for "real presence" in the bread and wine of Communion. Protestants and Eastern Christians do not adhere to transubstantiation though all Eastern Christians and many Protestants believe that Christ is truly present and that we partake of Him when we eat the bread and drink the wine of Communion.

Eastern Christians, Anglicans, and some Lutherans (not by Luther) have unbroken apostolic succession, whether or not Rome accepts their claims is another matter all together. They do, through their bishops, have unbroken succession to the Apostles. Roman may discount that and label them schismatic or what ever, but they do have that link.

I disagree with Rome on a number of very important items, and I would like to see the schisms that have divided the Christian East from the Christian West for more than a thousand years and has divided the Western Church for five hundred years, but I do not see reconciliation in our near future. Rome, and its allies, were the ones that started the bloodletting in the 16th century. Rome approved of killing Protestants by sword and by fire. Rome decided it was the duty of Catholics to overthrow Protestant Princes by what ever means necessary and there was reaction and counter reaction for centuries.

The bloodletting is (in most of the world - thank God) long past, but we have a long way to go before their will be community and brotherhood once again. I for one appreciate the attempt made by the Catholic Church at Vatican II. It think it went from one extreme (Unum Sanctum and Trent) to another where even non believers are said to be ok. I can understand why some Catholics, like yourself, have a problem with Vatican II, but a return to the hardnosed pronouncements of the past will increase the chasm that divides the Christian world.

Perhaps I can better address what you say after Christmas, when I will get a few days off.

Coram Deo,