|Portrait of Pope Julius II, 1512.
Raphael da Sanzio
As popes go, Uncle Francesco wasn't much of a pope. Taking on the name, Sixtus IV, he built a bridge across the Tiber connecting the Vatican to greater Rome (not that Rome was very "great" at the time). He also built the Sistine chapel--a crude, ungainly structure, as much a fortress as a church. On the negative side, he might be said to have given nepotism a bad name. He made quite a number of Rovere relatives Cardinals; and invited them to Rome where, for the most part, they did little more than feast on church wealth and dabble in church politics. Giulano, at the age of 28, was one of these new young Cardinals. However, when it came to church politics, he was much more than just a dabbler. He became a powerful force to be reckoned with. During the next 22 years, he was almost elected pope himself, twice, before finally succeeding to the office in 1503. He chose the name, Julius II. And neither art, nor the Catholic Church, has ever been the same since.
|Donato Bramante's first draft of his
plan for St. Peter's Basilica, 1505-06,
superimposed over the plan for
the original St. Peter's Basilica.
|Michelangelo's original design
for the tomb of Julius II