the pope rap
so my wife (who was raised catholic) likes it when I get drunk and talk about popes. this is because 1) I am a delightful drunk and 2) i know a confusing amount about the history of the catholic church (especially considering that I am Jewish) and so since I am very tired, which is a bit like being drunk, I will share with you some of my favorite popes. with apologies to all devout catholics in the audience, what are you doing here, turn away now, abandon all hope ye who enter:
Pope Nope: Otherwise known as Pope Celestine V. Pope Nope was the founder of the Celestine Order. Pope Nope lived as a hermit in quiet seclusion and modesty. Pope Nope absolutely did not want to be Pope. After sending an angry letter to the Church saying they should pick a Pope ASAP (they’d been hedging on it for like two years), the Church said, ‘This is it. This is the guy.’ Pope Nope promptly tried to flee the country. The Church sent people to physically drag him to Rome. One of his first edicts was to declare that the Pope was allowed to abdicate. Surprisingly, he abdicated five months later.
Pope Douchebag: Pope Boniface VIII. Came on after Pope Nope. Declared first Catholic Party Times (jubilee) in Rome in 1300 (in an attempt to revitalize Rome in general, and yanno raise money, an ongoing theme in this story). This should’ve made him kinda cool, except he pissed of the King of France and the poet Dante Alighieri, who he sort of let get kicked out of Florence. This resulted in Dante Alighieri writing one of the most beautifully elaborate revenge fics in Western literature. Now, Nope Douchebag (as a modern Dante would surely have called him) wasn’t dead when The Divine Comedy was published, but Dante made sure that in Inferno, the chapter related to hell and all the lovely punishments waiting there, to have a character point to a flaming hole in the ground and say “AND THAT’S WHERE YOU’RE GOING, POPE DOUCHEBAG. THIS HOLE. IT WAS MADE FOR YOU,” so there’s that.
Pope Evil: Pope Alexander VI aka the Borgia Pope aka that guy you get into a slapfight with in Assassin’s Creed 2. Alleged crimes include extreme amounts of nepotism, murder, rape, bribery, etc, etc. He probably wasn’t actually necessarily as evil as everyone always says (most of the incest and murder stories were told by his political enemies) but bribery and nepotism was sort of just what you DID when you were Pope back in the day. He probably did not look like Jeremy Irons. He did, however, paint really tacky images of his favorite mistress all over the papal bed chambers which led to…
Pope Badass I: aka Pope Julius II deciding ‘screw this I am NOT sleeping in a former Borgia love nest’ and so he decided to commission the building of Saint Peter’s Basilica aka one of the the biggest loudest holiest of holy ‘oh father in heaven how will we even do this?’ pieces of catholic architecture in the world. Pope Badass did not believe in doing things half way. Pope Badass wanted to be remembered. He commissioned an assortment of remarkable artists at the time. Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, like, a ton of ninja turtles. In the mean time, he also did little things like decide to retake the Papal states, the territory around the city of Rome, which the Church had lost over the last few centuries. How did he decide to do this? By ordering all the cardinals to suit up, get their armor on, go on a road trip, they were going to war. If a local government didn’t do what he wanted fast enough? He excommunicated the whole city. Pope Badass didn’t do anything half way. He originally commissioned Michelangelo to build his future funeral tomb, but forever annoyed the grumpy artist because he kept pulling him away to work on new little side projects
the Sistine Chapel.
Party Pope: Pope Leo X, Medici Pope – yeah, from those Medici. Party Pope was not about to let being a member of the Catholic Church stop him from living the high life of Florentine nobility. Party Pope believed in huge banquets for all his friends and selling lots of indulgences to pay off that big basilica Pope Badass decided to build. Party Pope held a big banquet in which gold plates were thrown in the river. Party Pope had an actual real live pet elephant with red shoes. Party Pope kept conveniently putting off the letters written by a fellow by the name of Martin Luther, who kept writing him to be “uh, hey Party Pope, maybe you are partying a bit too hard, maybe you should like, cut down on that a little….” Party Pope did not stop partying.
Look, we’re not saying the Protestant Reformation was kind of his fault.
The Protestant Reformation was kind of his fault.
Pope Buzzkill: Pope Adrian VI. German. Didn’t change his name upon accepting the papacy. Arrived in the massive Roman hangover left by Party Pope. Decided “okay, yes, Catholics, we are partying too hard, let’s do something about that” and proceeded to try and pass a number of very strict laws and measures to try and curb the partying ways of the Church at that time. He was deeply unpopular for this. Because COME ON, Pope Buzzkill, it’s the RENAISSANCE.
He was so unpopular that, after his death, the Catholic Church did not elect another non-Italian Pope for some 500 years. Pope John Paul II. Yeah. As in the guy who was Pope 20 years ago.
They really didn’t like Pope Buzzkill.
Pope Weenie: SO THEY ELECTED ANOTHER MEDICI TO THE PAPACY. YEAH! CLEMENT VII! PARTY POPE II! THINGS WILL BE AWESOME NOW! WE CAN HAVE MISTRESSES AND BRIBE EVERYONE AND GIVE OUR NEPHEWS HIGH POLITICAL POSITIONS AND
France and The Holy Roman Empire are at war right now?
wait, why is Charles V coming over the scenic Italian countryside with all those really angry men
Yes, ladies and gentleman, through a general inability to manage the conflicting pressures from France and and the Holy Roman Empire, Pope Weenie wound up preciding 1527 over the Sack of Rome, in which the Holy Roman Emperor parked his expansive army in that big half constructed basilica that Pope Badass had decided to start building way back when.
Oh, and Pope Weenie didn’t grant Henry VIII that anullment he wanted. We’re not saying that the formation of the Anglican church was his fault. But it was kinda his fault.
Pope Badass II: Common lore says Pope Badass II aka Sixtus V got his start as an illiterate swineheard born to a peasant family in the Papal States. He rose his way up through the ranks through guile, beautiful oratory skills, and a will of iron. Pope Badass II was aware that as Pope, he did not have long on this earth, and he would get shit DONE. When he looked at that unfinished basilica that Pope Badass I had started, Party Pope had sold indulgences to fund, and Pope Weenie had let troops run through, he said “You know what this needs? A finished dome.” He asked his architect how long this would take.
“Five years,” said his architect, trying to be optimistic. It would really take more like ten years, given all the work that still needed to go into and–
“Great,” said Pope Badass II, “Do it in two.”
AND THEN IT HAPPENED.
Pope Badass II also is amazing for his response to the sinking of the Spanish Armada, in which Queen Elizabeth managed to blow up a ton of ships belonging to Spain, which was at that time only, you know, the most powerful catholic nation in Europe. Was Pope Badass II pissed at this defeat against protestant forces? Who knows, but HE ALSO SEEMED TO THINK THIS WAS THE FUNNIEST THING HE’D EVER HEARD AND PRETTY MUCH WENT AHAHAHA THIS WOMAN WHO OWNS HALF AN ISLAND JUST TOTALLY WIPED THE FLOOR WITH THE SPANISH THAT IS AMAZNG HE WOULD TOTALLY MARRY QUEEN ELIZABETH IF HE WEREN’T POPE.
“Imagine what progeny we would have!” <— pretty much the quote. yes, ladies and gentleman, this is the VICAR OF CHRIST declaring that he would totally do Queen Elizabeth I.
Sadly, Pope Badass I also did some things that were not so badass. He was responsible for a lot of the Catholic Church’s harsher stances on birth control and abortion, of which we still see many the effects of today, so perhaps this puts maybe a bit of a damper on the true badassery he could have otherwise attained.
But one cannot deny he had excellent taste in ladies.
And also he got them to finish that dang dome.
And that’s my Pope Rap. Please feel free to add to it if you are a giant nerd like me and have collected random trivia about medieval and renaissance artists and political figures. Perhaps, now that I have written this, my wife will no longer have to hear me talk about this every time I have like, half an appletini.
But probably not.