Hendrik Willem von Loon’s Take on the Reformation

“Donato d’Augnolo was, like Raphael, a native of Urbino. After many years of apprenticeship in different parts of northern Italy, during which time he changed his name to Bramante, he finally was appointed general superintendent of all the papal building operations in Rome. Julius II, who became pope in 1503, inherited him from his predecessor, Alexander VI, and told him to resume work upon the new St. Peter’s and finish the job with all possible haste. Bramante said that he would be delighted to do so. Just let him have the money and His Holiness would see the mortar fly. His Holiness consulted his bankers. They in turn informed him that he was broke.

“All this will sound quite familiar to many of our modern architects, for most of our own church buildings, too, stand firmly founded on a mighty fundament of unpaid mortgages. But after the Borgias (Alexander VI had belonged to that distinguished Spanish family) even the credit of the Holy See was gone, and so in an evil hour for the Church it was decided to raise the necessary cash by selling several million dollars’ with of indulgences.”

– Hendrik Willem von Loon, The Arts, 1937

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