Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Pope Julius II

It was on the night of February 20th-21st 1513, five centuries ago, that Pope Julius II died.

Born Giuliano della Rovere in 1443 he was elevated to the cardinalate by his uncle Pope Sixtus IV and was himself elected to the Papacy late in 1503.

There is an illustrated online life of Pope Julius here and another, from the Catholic Encyclopaedia, here.


Pope Julius II

The Pope is depicted as Pope Gregory IX issuing the Decretals.
He is wearing the Papal tiara on top of the camauro.

Image: The Mad Monarchist

As Pope he is famous for his military campaigns, which may today seem somewhat unsuitable for the Vicar of Christ, but which were part of the maintenance of the independence of the Papal States - a vital issue for the Popes from the Donations of Pepin and Charlemagne to the Lateran Treaty of 1929 and the creation of the modern sovereign Vatican City state.

His other, and more enduring, legacy for the Holy See and the Church was the rebuilding of St Peter's Basilica, which he began with the laying of the foundation stone in 1506 and, of course, his commission to Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Both of these buildings are going to be more than usually in the thoughts of Catholics and the wider world in coming weeks, so it is by no means inappropriate to give thanks for Pope Julius as a patron of truly great and spectacular art.

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