SAVONAROLA: FROM the TIMELINE
1498 – Michelangelo completes “Pieta” sculpture in St. Peter’s, Rome
In His Own Words
[Savonarola spoke out most strongly against the corrupt clergy of his day, especially those in Rome]
In these days, prelates and preachers are chained to the earth by the love of earthly things. The care of souls is no longer their concern. They are content with the receipt of revenue. The preachers preach to please princes and to be praised by them. They have done worse. They have not only destroyed the Church of God. They have built up a new Church after their own patter. Go to Rome and see! In the mansions of the great prelates there is no concern save for poetry and the oratorical art. Go thither and see! Thou shalt find them all with the books of the humanities in their hands and telling one another that they can guide men’s souls by means of Virgil, Horace, and Cicero….The prelates of former days had fewer gold miters and chalices, and what few they possessed were broken up and given to relieve the needs of the poor. But our prelates, for the sake of obtaining chalices, will rob the poor of their sole means of support. Dost thou not know what I would tell thee! What doest thou, O Lord! Arise, and come to deliver thy Church from the hands of devils, from the hands of tyrants, from the hands of iniquitous prelates (quoted in Philip Schaff. History of the Christian Church. VI, p. 688).
It is not difficult to see why he incurred the wrath of Rome. He spoke of Pope Boniface VIII as wicked and beginning his pontificate “like a fox and ending it like a dog.” Speaking of the seat of all iniquity, he said: It begins in Rome where the clergy make mock of Christ and the saints; yea, are worse than Turks and worse than Moors. They traffic in the sacraments. They sell benefices to the highest bidder. Have not the priests in Rome courtesans and grooms and horses and dogs? Have they not palaces full of tapestries and silks, of perfumes and lackeys? Seemeth it, that this is the Church of God?