Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/258

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THE SACK OF ROME

marble figures o this monument only one is worthy of Michaelangelo and the dead Pontiff. If, after losing oneself in reflection before this superhuman Moses, one tries to divine what the figure means, one may hover between disparate experiences of similar impressiveness. Does this figure signify by its exalted brooding aflame with divine fire, Papal awareness of God's commission to man and of His sacred wrath over the failure of mankind to respond to that commission? Or is the object of this majestic ire the scandal given by unworthy Popes?

Alexander, the Pope of Venus, had been followed by a Son of Mars; and now Pallas placed her favourite on the throne. That was about the meaning of an inscription on a triumphal arch as Leo X (1513- 1521) rode to the Vatican on a white horse, at the head of a solemn procession, to take possession of the Fisherman's See. This Medici prince was a cheerful epicurean, amiable and generous, a man of moderate endowments more devoted to the things that seem than to the things that are. He was a principe in Papal attire, and not much more. Before his rime many a Pontiff had fled from his electors be- cause the responsibility he was soon to assume seemed overwhelming. But we are told that Leo cheerfully accepted the burden. Dynastic interests took precedence in his mind over the idea of the Church as well as over the idea of the unity of Italy, which now looked upon the Popes as leaders and prime movers in the effort to foster a national policy. When France had reconquered Milan with a victory over the Swiss at Marignano, the Pope allied himself with the victor in order to insure the rule of the House of Medici in Florence. We must, he said, throw ourselves into the arms of the king and plead for mercy. His negotiations with Francis I, and the important Con- cordat of 1517 which the Lateran Council, still in session, had ratified, established the basis on which relations between the Curia and the French crown were to rest until the time of the Revolution. It is true that the half-schismatic clauses of the Pragmatic Sanction were removed in favour of a formal recognition of the Papal authority; but at bottom the fateful treaty established to a great degree the in- dependence of the Gallican Church from the Curia. Here the Pope was dominated by a desire to safeguard the dynastic interests of the Medici, and the same wish was also to involve him in disgraceful


MARTIN