|Leo X (Portrait by Rubens)|
Never mind that this was often paid for with money garnered from indulgences (alms in exchange for the pardoning of sins) – Leo's philosophy has been described as follows: Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it.
In keeping with these words, Leo not only sold indulgences - but also cardinals' hats, palace furniture, jewels, and even "statues of the apostles." Wikipedia reports that he used this money to fund all sorts of artistic ventures – from establishing a Greek printing press to employing Raphael to work on St. Peter's Basilica. Not to mention Leo's habit of parading around Rome with jesters and Hanno the elephant in tow…
These days things aren't quite as flamboyant, but are nevertheless picking up speed. Religion News Service (RNS) recently reported that the Vatican had plans to participate in the 2013 Venice Biennale ("a leading international arts festival"). RNS also reported that Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, "the Vatican's culture minister who was considered a strong contender during the recent papal conclave, has made reconciliation with the art world a top priority…"
Copyright May 19, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved