Unmasking Catholicism

 By Mary Ann Collins, a former Catholic nun

nguồn: http://www.unmaskingcatholicism.com/Contents.shtml

Gửi bài này cho bạn bè 10  tháng 9, 2007



Chapter 11
Imperial Popes

In 314 A.D., Pope Silvester was crowned by Emperor Constantine. (At the time, Silvester was known as the Bishop of Rome, but Catholics refer to him as Pope Silvester.) The Roman Emperor wanted to promote Christianity. The Pope wanted to have the favor of the Roman Emperor, instead of being persecuted. This alliance between Pope and Emperor created the Roman Catholic Church.

Constantine gave Pope Silvester a beautiful palace and a magnificent cathedral with seven altars made of gold. Instead of being a humble bishop, Silvester lived like a Roman nobleman. He had wealth, power, prestige, and the favor of the Roman Emperor. The power and influence of the Roman Empire were at the Pope's disposal.1

Churchmen wore purple robes, reflecting the purple of Constantine's court. That was an external change. The most important change was an internal one. Under Pope Silvester, the internal structure of the Church took on the form and practice and pomp of the Roman Empire. Popes dressed and acted like Roman emperors, and they had the same imperial attitude. They lived in luxury and they wanted to rule over both Church and state.2

Imperial papacy reached its peak during the Middle Ages. Popes were rich and powerful, and they ruled over kings and emperors. A well known example is the public humiliation of the Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Gregory VII. (Information about this is online.)3

Pope Gregory VII declared that the Pope has the right to depose kings and emperors, to make laws, and to require secular rulers to kiss his feet. He said that nobody has the right to judge the Pope. Gregory also declared that, because of the merits of Saint Peter, every duly elected Pope is a saint.4 (Because of that, some people refer to him as the Pope who canonized himself.)

Pope Innocent III reigned from 1198 to 1216. He called himself the Ruler of the World. He wore a gold crown covered with jewels. He sat upon a purple throne. His clothes sparkled with gold and jewels. His horse was covered with scarlet. Kings and churchmen kissed his foot. The Inquisition persecuted people who disagreed with him. Innocent became the most powerful man in the world. (You can read about this online.)5

Pope Boniface VIII reigned from 1294 to 1303. He said that he was Caesar, the Roman Emperor. His crown was covered with over 200 costly jewels (rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and large pearls).6

Boniface sought to further increase the Pope's power and authority. In his encyclical, Unam Sanctam, he said that the Catholic Church has authority over national governments. He also declared that salvation depends on being subject to the Pope. (You can read this online.)7

(The rest of the information in this chapter is available online. You can check it out for yourself, including looking at pictures. See the Notes.)

Purple dye used to be extremely expensive. The color was a symbol of wealth and power. Purple was worn by Roman emperors and by Roman Catholic popes. During the middle ages, wealthy popes used gems and purple stones in papal architecture. The purple came from porphyry (a stone that has crystals embedded in a purple groundmass).8

Pope Paul II reigned from 1464 to 1471. He enjoyed luxurious living and had a tiara of gold that was covered with jewels. He had “Bacchanalian parades” that revived the pagan “carnival games” of ancient Rome. After the games, the people gathered in front of the Pope’s palace to eat, and then the Pope stood on his balcony and threw money to the crowd. In 1464, he introduced the use of scarlet as a symbol of wealth and power. He called it “Cardinal’s Purple,” because it was worn by his cardinals. Scarlet became a luxury dye during the Middle Ages. (Catholic cardinals still wear scarlet.)9

Pope Paul VI reigned from 1963 to 1978. He was the last Pope to wear the papal tiara. This is a triple crown, covered with jewels. You can see pictures of the tiara online.10

The Pope is an absolute monarch in the Vatican. He sits on an ornate throne. You can see pictures of the throne online.11

Cardinals are called "princes of the church." They are citizens of the Vatican, in addition to being citizens of their homelands.12

Popes, cardinals and bishops wear gold and jewels. They wear rings and crosses. The Pope has a special ring known as the "Ring of the Fisherman." He also has magnificent pontifical rings that he wears on special occasions. Cardinals have rings of sapphire and gold. They often have additional rings of their own choosing.13

For special occasions, popes, cardinals, and bishops wear vestments that are decorated with gold or made of gold cloth. (This is cloth that is actually made of real gold.) Some vestments are studded with jewels. Even the gloves of high-ranking churchmen are decorated with gold. Such imperial splendor was prevalent during the Middle Ages, but it still exists today. During the Middle Ages, gloves were sometimes studded with jewels. But even in recent times, they are decorated with gold. Pope Pius XII reigned from 1939 to 1958. He had gloves and shoes that were decorated with gold. Some of his shoes had jewels on them.14

In Saint Peter’s Basilica, there is a life-sized statue of Saint Peter, sitting on a papal throne. On the Feast Day of St. Peter, this statue wears pontifical vestments and the papal crown (tiara). The art book “Treasures of the Vatican” has a photograph of this statue wearing vestments of gold and scarlet, and a gold triple crown that is studded with large jewels. The National Geographic’s art book “Inside the Vatican” has a picture of the statue with a nun kissing its feet. The right foot has been worn smooth because so many people have kissed it.15

Popes wear ermine (an expensive fur often worn by royalty). They have a special cape called a mozzetta that is trimmed with ermine.16

For solemn occasions, popes use a portable throne called a sedia gestatoria. It is a richly adorned chair that is covered with silk. Long rods go through gold-covered rings. The throne is carried by twelve uniformed footmen. When the Pope celebrates solemn pontifical Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica, he arrives in state, preceded by a procession of cardinals, bishops, and prelates. The Pope is carried on the sedia gestatoria, with a canopy over him, and special fans made of white feathers on either side of him.17

Pope Pius XII reigned from 1939 to 1958. When Vatican officials came into his presence, they had to kneel while speaking with him, and leave the room walking backwards. When he telephoned Vatican officials, they had to drop to their knees with the phone in their hand and remain kneeling while they spoke to him. This was going on in 1958. That is less than 50 years ago.18

The Pope has a huge, luxurious palace. The Pontifical Palace, the Sistine Chapel, and Saint Peter's Basilica are filled with priceless paintings and statues. The architecture is rich and ornate. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo. In addition, there are 22 Vatican museums that are full of art treasures. You can see pictures of all of these things online. Words are inadequate to convey the rich architectural complexity and the artistic elegance of the Pope's palace, chapel, and church. Their opulence defies description.19

 

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