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Sep 2, 2013

Borgias' troubled burial.


The dark legend of the Borgias is known.
Alexander VI, the fourth Spanish pope who occupied the papal throne (the first 3 were Damasus I, Benedict XIII and Callisto III Borgia, the uncle) was a controversial figure:  the Borgias are associated with adultery, incest, simony and murders. Maybe such dark legend was exaggerated by Romantic mythology (Hugo, Dumas, Apollinaire), for sure they were not absolutely innocent.
Alexander died of malaria or perhaps poisoned,  after a long agony on August 18th, 1503,  after 11 years of papacy.
The master of ceremonies Johannes Burkhardt gave him the funeral honors:  the body was moved to the Sistine Chapel and then to St. Peter's. Being a very hot August, the burial was hurried to prevent decomposition.  He rested in the 'Chapel of the Spanish' (disappeared with the reconstruction of St. Peter's). Originally located by the obelisk when it was still on the left side of the Basilica. Buried next to his uncle Callixtus III, the other Borgia pope.  When the obelisk was moved to the center of the square under Pope Sixtus V, the Spanish Chapel of the popes was destroyed and their remains placed in a lead coffin. In the early seventeenth century the remains were moved to the Church of Santa Maria in Monserrato, the National Church of the Crown of Aragon  Only at the end of XIX century they were given proper burial in the Chapel on the right, the first as you enter:  some Spanish aristocrats raised funds for the Chapel (their remains had been abandoned in a corner of the Sacristy where only some curious traveller would have ventured eager to see what was left of the Borgia's legend).  The present Monument is by Moratilla.  The Borgias rest finally in peace after 400 years.  The Spanish king Alfonso XIII (the last one before the Franco Regime) was deposed here after his death in Rome in 1941. 


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