In the Footsteps of the Borgias



January / February 2003


Friday January 31st 2003


On Friday the 31st of January Wicher and myself (Henk) left for a long weekend Rome.

Our main objective was to have a look at the Borgia exposition in the Palazzo Ruspoli. We arrived in the late afternoon and the first thing we did after arrival was to take a walk from our hotel in the vicinity of the Termini railway station to the palazzo, on our way passing the Trevi Fontain amidst hordes of Japanese tourists.

It turned out that the exposition “I Borgia, l’arte del potere” (The Borgias. The art of power) proved to be very well done. I especially appreciated the way the Borgia Family was pictured in relation to it’s times. It showed the relation between this family and contemporaries such as Columbus, Savonarola, Hieronymus Bosch and Macchiavelli.


Click here for information and photos of the exposition





Sunday February 2nd,2003


Church of Santa Maria di Monserrato


Following the footsteps of the Borgias we visited quite some churches today. The Santo Maria in Montserato, where we saw the tombs of the 2 Borgia popes. The church is frequented by Spanish nationals and in honour of  these two Valencians of reknown the City Council of Valencia had the tombs restored in the Year of the Jubilee 2000. On this occasion the name tags of Alexander VI and Calixtus III were switched, so they now are each under the right tomb.


The photograph to the right is from the year 1998, with the names still attaches to the wrong portrait.

The Gesu Church

In the Gesu Church of the Jesuites we attended mass. Supposedly there is a copy of the death mask of St. Francis Borgia  here. However the attending priests were not able to produce it. There is a chapel in honour of the Saint though. He was the Third General of the Society of Jesus.


Church of Santa Maria del Popolo

Vanozza de Catanei’s Epitaph

originally in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo

at present in the portal of the Church of San Marco at the Piazzo San Marco


D[eo]  O[ptimo] M[aximo]

Vanotiae Cathanei, Caesare Valentiae, Iohanne Gandiae, Iufredo Scyllatii et Lucretia Ferrariae ducibus filiis nobili Probitate insigni Religione eximia pari et acetate et prudentiae optime ex xenodochio laterane­n. meritae hieronimus picus fidei commiss. procur. ex test(amento) pos(uit). Vix(it) ann. LXXVI m. IV d. XIII. Obiit anno MDXVIiI, XXVI nov.


To God, the best and greatest.

To Vanozza Catanei, mother of Cesare of Valence, John [Juan] of Gandia, Jufredo [Jeffrey] of Squilace, and Lucretia the Duchess of Ferrara;  conspicuous for her uprightness, her piety, her discretion, and her intelligence, and deserving much on account of what she did for the Lateran Hospital. Erected by Hieronymous Picus, fiduciary-commissioner and executor of her will. She lived 76 years, 4 months and 13 days. She died in the year 1518, November 26th.


Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

(To be continued)