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Papal Trivia: Sarah Palin Of The Papacy

August 22, 2011

As I read an account of Pope Claxitus III from 1455 I instantly thought of Sarah Palin.  But before we get to that part of this story from Absolute Monarchs, A History Of The Papacy by Julius Norwich we need to learn about his predecessor, Nicholas V.

Nicholas upon his accession set out to create “a library of all books, both in Latin and Greek.”  ( I can see some of my readers getting ahead of the story!)

The work basically started from scratch.  Papal agents traveled all over Europe searching for rare manuscripts, scholars worked to make sure accurate Latin translation of the Greek texts took place.  Forty-five copyists were employed full-time.  When Nicholas died he had collected some 1,200 volumes, and the start of the Vatican Library was underway.  He had used church money collected in a most constructive way.

Then came  Claxitus III, and I swear as I read this next part of the book my mind jumped to Sarah Palin.

Claxitus III had two ambitions. The first was to start another crusade, and the second was to advance the fortunes of the family.  Many popes did  this.  (And we know all about Sarah Palin.)

“Art and literature did not interest him a jot”, is the way Norwich writes of  Claxitus III. 

“See how the treasure of the church has been wasted”, he is said to have exclaimed on walking into the Vatican library for the first time.  During his three years as pope the Renaissance in Rome ended.  Public funds were cut for metalworkers, sculpters, etc.  (We all know Sarah Palin has a hatred for public funds being used for useful things too.)

To make money for the crusade  Claxitus III sold off art treasures from the Vatican and some of the most precious books in the papal library.

As Norwich writes the death of  Claxitus III was “generally welcomed.”  “Nobody had liked  Claxitus III much”, was the way Norwich summed up the story.

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