With Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement that he will abdicate the papacy, he will make history as the first Pope to do so since July 4th, 1415. While Benedict cites his “advanced age” for his reason to leave his position, the last Pope to resign, Pope Gregory XII, left due to a terrible divide in the Roman Catholic Church called the Great Western Schism.
During his reign there were at least two “antipopes”, or men who claimed to be Pope, Antipope Benedict XIII and Antipope John XXII. Due to this chaos Gregory XII was unable to do much throughout his reign, and may have been but a blip on the historical radar if not for Benedict XVI’s announcement of resignation.
Gregory XII’s nearly 10 year reign came to a conclusion at The Council of Constance in 1414, where John XXII and Gregory XII were convinced to resign and become cardinals. Benedict XIII was not persuaded to resign his unofficial papacy and therefore was excommunicated and lived the rest of his life in obscurity off the coast of Spain.
Pope Martin V was chosen as the successor to this chaotic period, but Gregory XII should be given credit for stepping down for the good of the church. In that there can be a correlation between Gregory XII and Benedict XVI. Benedict has stated that the church needs someone younger to deal with the problems facing the church and he feels in his current state of health he is unable to do the necessary job.
With his resignation comes the question of who will succeed him. There has been talk about possibly the first non-European Pope, possibly from Africa or the Americas. Either way, whoever is elected into the papacy will surely have their hands full.
ENGLISH nobles threatened “extreme remedies” against the Roman Catholic Church unless the Pope annulled Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, a letter contained in an exhibition of historic documents from the Vatican secret archives revealed yesterday.
The 3ft-wide parchment letter, complete with 81 wax seals and red silk ribbons, was one of the highlights of the exhibition, which chronicles more than 1,200 years of the Vatican’s dealings with kings and conquerors.
Read more of the article at Secret files reveal Henry VIII’s ‘extreme’ threats over marriage – World News – Independent.ie.
Story by Nick Squires
The Vatican Secret Archives have been the holder of many important historical documents. Now and exhibition will be held at the Capitoline Museums in Rome from February to September 2012. The exhibit, titled “Lux in arcana – The Vatican Secret Archives reveals itself” will have 100 original documents dating from the 8th to the 20th century on display. Gavin Madeley of the Daily Mail reports on the upcoming exhibition and one letter from Mary, Queen of Scots to Pope Sixtus V asking for help in particular.
The fragile parchment text, bearing royal insignia, was sent in hope to a pope by a deposed monarch begging for her life.
Yet while the letter addressed to Sixtus V failed to save Mary, Queen of Scots, from the executioner’s axe, the document itself did survive buried in the depths of the Vatican’s so-called Secret Archives.
Jealously guarded for centuries, it is now among 100 of the most historically significant items of confidential correspondence due to go on public display for the first time in a special exhibition in Rome.
The priceless collection spans more than a millennium, from the 8th century to modern times and features a cast of historical characters who have crossed swords with a succession of Pontiffs, from Knights Templar to Galileo, Martin Luther and Henry VIII.
Read more of the article at Mary Queen of Scots sent letter begging for her life to Vatican before execution | Mail Online.
In light of the release of the new movie Anonymous, interest has arisen again whether William Shakespeare was secretly Catholic. In Elizabethan England, many Catholics were persecuted and massacred. The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, refers to references in Shakespeare’s work as main proof he was Catholic. Is Shakespeare’s work purely fiction, or personal opinion? Nick Pisa of the Daily Mail reports on the Vatican’s evidence that they say points to William Shakespeare being Catholic.
The Vatican has reignited the debate over whether playwright William Shakespeare was Catholic by insisting there was ‘little doubt he was’.
Historians have been in two minds over Shakespeare’s faith with splits between whether he was a Roman Catholic or a Protestant and the argument has surfaced again with the release of blockbuster film Anonymous.
The political thriller stars Rafe Spall and Rhys Ifans and is set against the backdrop of 16th Century England and controversially claims that Britain’s most prolific playwright was in fact a fraud and cover for the then Earl of Oxford.
Questions have also long surrounded his religion and there is little direct evidence of his faith, although he is buried in the Protestant church of Holy Trinity in Stratford Upon Avon, historians say there is some evidence that he was secretly Catholic.
Read the rest of the article at Was William Shakespeare a Catholic? The Vatican says there’s ‘little doubt’ he was | Mail Online.
For casual readers of history, the 1493 papal decree dividing the planet between Portugal and Spain is one more Ripley’s Believe It Or Not exhibit from our strange and wonderful past. For some interested parties, like the U.S.-based Indigenous Law Institute, the incident still has propaganda value. Stephen Bown, author of a history centred on this event, , informs us that the Institute in 1994 asked the Vatican formally to revoke the decree on the grounds that it sanctioned oppression of Native peoples. The Vatican response, according to Bown, was “evasive and indefinite.” If I were running things in the Vatican I think I’d be “evasive and indefinite,” too. The decree is more than 500 years old, I might discreetly remind people, and while it may not be a particularly happy instance of papal diplomacy, it’s time to get over it.
Review by Philip Marchand