At the entrance to the library hangs paintings of the two patron saints of Pope Alexander VI (Roderigo Borgia). On the right is St. Catherine of Sienna. On the left is the Dove of Rieti--a disciple of St. Catherine.
In 1494, Pintoricchio's work "The Dispute of Saint Catherine" used Lucrezia Borgia as the model for the Saint.
Many of the prayers and practices in connection with the worship of the Virgin Mary were instituted by Alexander VI (Roderigo Borgia) and are followed by the Roman Catholic church of today.
THE STAIRWAY LEADING TO THE 2ND FLOOR PUBLIC BALCONY ROOM
THE CHAPEL ROOM
ROOM OF ILLUSIONS
The entrance to the private rooms of the Giovanni on the North side of the building and adjacent to the Room of Illusions is hidden behind bookcases so not visible to any visitors (unless they have a reason to search for and find the doors).
One of the photos shows a view of the bookcases with the door ajar.
THE BORGIA ROOM
The room is obviously dedicated to the House of Borgia and is home to works of art celebrating them. Along with the Room of Illusions, it is part of the original library. Carmella, when having the church built, took a cue from Italian Renaissance cathedrals that always incorporated at least a modest library.
Borgia descendants were a major influence in European history for many generations, in the church and politically, but none gained as much notoriety as Roderigo, Cesare and Lucrezia. Authors like Machiavelli, Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas wrote accounts and treatise of their lives that are still popular today. Movies, plays, operas and television series continue to characterise the Borgia triad as licentious, bloodthirsty and power hungry.
A curious contrast, characteristic of the extremes of the Borgia nature, is afforded by the fact that such a sinister family so steeped in vice and crime could take pleasure in the most exquisite works of art and literature. Bramante. Raphael, Michelangelo and Pinturicchio all worked for the Borgia. Below are some samples of art in the Borgia Room.
On April 18, 1480, Cardinal Roderigo Borgia and his mistress Vanozza Catanei were blessed with the birth of their third child, who would henceforth be known as Lucrezia Borgia. The very name Lucrezia Borgia has become a slur. It conjures up images of unspeakable corruption in female form. It sends visions of a beautiful, heartless, rapacious, carnal and treacherous femme fatale. Her reputation for foulness has achieved mythic proportions. She is seen as the ultimate counterpart to her monstrous brother Cesare. Together with their father, Pope Alexander VI, they create a perfect triangle of dastardliness.
It has become popular in the modern age to depict Lucrezia as merely a victim and pawn of her brothers and father instead of an active participant in their debaucheries, cruelties and scheming. Perhaps this new theory regarding Lucrezia is a reflection of the inability of society at large to conceive of the "fairer sex" as capable of such atrocious actions. We look back at the heinous crimes and libertine behaviors of the Borgia, that even taken in the context of the amoral times were heinious, and the mind of the most learned falls prey to an urgency to repel the notion that a woman could, of her own free will, be in full partnership. After all, women are too gentle and passive in our imaginations to entertain thoughts of corruption and violence. It is this pernacious idealization of the female as a sweet-face madonna with a vapid mind who is the constant victim of males that has allowed them to commit crimes and get away with them--sometimes for decades. The concept of Lucrezia being nothing more than a pawn in the power games of her family doesn't fly in the face of some of the disregarded facts of the modern hypothesis concerning her involvement. All evidence indicates that Pope Alexander VI was devoted to the children his mistresses bore him and spoiled them regardless of gender. It is doubtful that Pope Alexander VI would have placed a submissive, hapless and victimized Lucrezia upon the papal throne to reign during his absences from the Vatican. There is also Lucrezia's own behavior after the deaths of Alexander VI and Cesare Borgia, the brother who was purported to have the biggest sway over her, that should be taken into consideration since she should have then been free of their influence. In spite of the beatific and "changed woman" image she depicted to the people of Farrara as Duchess of that kingdom, she continued in her adulterous ways and took a long string of lovers; some of which are said to have disappeared during the course of their affairs with her.
Although she is depicted with dark or red hair in some paintings, several like the one on the left above painted by acclaimed Italian artist Titiano and most writings from the era indicated that she was a beautiful, charming woman with gray-blue eyes and blonde hair who had utterly captured her father's heart and those of her brothers'.
The murderous Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI. Cesare was a cold, relentless egotist, using men for his own ends. He was instrumental in the rapid development of the art of war and inspired the image of the ideal Prince celebrated by Machiavelli in the book, "The Prince." Cesare was possessed of the notion that he resembled the Saviour. His titles were numerous--Duke of Valentinois and Romagna, Prince of Andria and Venafri, Count of Dyois, Lord of Piombino, Camerino, and Urbino, Cardinal, Gonfalonier and Captain-General of the Holy Church. His crimes and sins of passion were numerous too.
Astute observers, then and now, agree that Cesare despised all women. Although there was some true affection for his wife Charlotte d'Albrêt (daughter of the Duke of Guyenne and sister of the King of Navarre) during his short tenure with her, this spite for all women included mistresses. He loved only Lucrezia, who moved heaven and earth to release him by endless entreaties to people in power, when he was imprisoned in Spain. The murderer was never apprehended but, it is rumored, that his brother Giovanni (Jaun) died at the hands of Cesare due to jealousy over the attentions of their sister, Lucrezia.
The above portrait is by Gianfrancesco Bembo, who was to later become the lover of Lucrezia in the waning days of her life when she was married to the Duke of Ferrara.
Pope Alexander VI With Cesare And Lucrezia At The Vatican
From the pen-portraits left of Alexander VI by Gasparino of Verona, and Girolamo Porzio, we know him for a tall, handsome man with black eyes and full lips, elegant, courtly, joyous, and choicely eloquent, of such health and vigour and endurance that he was insensible to any fatigue. Giasone Maino of Milan refers to his "elegant appearance, serene brow, royal glance, a countenance that at once expresses generosity and majesty, and the genial and heroic air with which his whole personality is invested." To a similar description of him Gasparino adds that "all women upon whom he so much as casts his eyes he moves to love him; attracting them as the lodestone attracts iron;" which is, it must be admitted, a most undesirable reputation in a churchman. Burchard adds to these pen portraits a glimpse into the darker aspects of the Pope and his family. In one description, he recounts a scene in which Alexander VI, Cesare, and Lucrezia watched with amusement as fifty Roman harlots coupled with fifty palace servants, competing for prizes for "best performance" awarded by Alexander VI.
What Burchard is describing is "The Dance of Chestnuts" performed on several occasions but most spendidly during the celebrations of Lucrezia's first wedding at 13. Her nuptials were celebrated in the splendid manner worthy of the rank of all concerned and of the Borgia reputation for magnificence. The banquet was thrown in the apartment of the apostolic palazzo, some ten cardinals and a number of ladies and gentlemen of Rome--besides the ambassadors of Ferrara, Venice, Milan, and France--were in attendance. There was music and a licentious comedy was performed during dinner. After the food was eaten, lit candles were placed on the floor along with strewn chestnuts. The naked and crawling courtesans then did with the chesnuts what Monica did with Bill's cigar. The orgy Burchard speaks of ensued after the floor show. They appear to have carried their gaieties well into the dawn. Hardly the sort of scene for which the Vatican was the ideal stage.
Alexander absolutely worshiped all of his children, regardless of gender. In particular, he adored the four children he sired with his mistress, Vannoza Catanei--Giovanni (Jaun), the fearless if terrifying Cesare, the beautiful and sensible Lucrezia and Joffre. There were three children of uncertain parentage born before those of Vannoza's; two daughter--Girolama and Isabella--and a son--Pedro Luis. The mistress that came after Vannoza, Giulia Farnese, presented him with a daughter named Laura. There is some confusion because of conflicting records regarding who fathered Lucrezia's son known as the "Infant of Rome." The child does not make a public appearance until his third year and is later named Giovanni. His father is recorded variously as Alexander, Cesare or a trusted servant of Alexander's named Perotto.
"A Glass Of Wine With Cesare Borgia"
One of the figures in this print is Pope Alexander VI (Roderigo Borgia). He bends over his plate eating some grapes with a glass of wine next to him. The papal coat of arms displaying the Borgia family crest is frescoed on the wall. In front of him stands a young man dressed in robes and a fine coat. In his hand he holds an empty wine glass. To the left, the wine being poured from a fine gold pitcher by Cesare Borgia is assumed to be poisoned. Behind him and standing next to Pope Alexander VI is Lucrezia Borgia, She looks towards the man in front of the table with a cold look of disgust.
In the forefront of this painting is Cardinal Pedro Luis Borgia (Brother of Roderigo). In conversation behind the Cardinal (from left to right) are--Cesare Borgia, Niccolo' Macchiavelli and don Micheletto Corella.
St. Francis Borgia Exorsizing Demons. 1788. Oil on canvas. Francisco de Goya Artist.