October has been declared GLBT history month. Yes, I know I’m a little slow here, but as I noted yesterday, domestic and family issues the last couple of weeks have left me distracted, and severely short of time. No, I don’t know who has decided this, but no matter. Queer history is important, and October is as good a time as any to look at it seriously. I will be paying particular attention to general queer history at my dedicated satellite site, but I will also be posting here on some notable figures in the history of the Church. By marvellous serendipity, October 7th is the feast day of the Roman saints and martyrs, the lovers Sergius & Bacchus, who are by far the best known of the queer saints. Thanks to the attention lavished on them by John Boswell in both his books, they can be viewed informally as the patron saints of same sex lovers – but also of queer history.There are many other notable gay and lesbian figures in Church history. There are the obvious examples of the many other gay, lesbian and cross-dressing saints, there are the many less than saintly bishops and cardinals who are known to have had sex with men; there are others who may have remained technically chaste and celibate but disclosed their nature by the lavish patronage they bestowed on homosexual artists and the frankly homoerotic artworks they purchased – and the prominent churchmen who achieved fame or notoriety for the hatred and popular homophobia they whipped up against men who loved men. I hope to cover a selection of all these during this month of GLBT History (in Church).
In 1607, the Pope gave the Cardinal 107 paintings which had been confiscated from the studio of the painter Cavalier D’Arpino. In the following year, Raphael’s Deposition was removed by force from the Baglioni Chapel in the church of San Francesco in Perugia and transported to Rome to be given to the Cardinal Scipione through a papal motu proprio.
This is how it is described in Aldrich & Wetherspoon, “Who’s Who in Gay and Lesbian History: From Antiquity to the Mid-Twentieth Century”
He was adopted by his uncle who, when became pope with the name Paul V, made him Cardinal at age 29. His uncle’s favour allowed Borgese to accumulate an immense fortune, which he used to acquire which he used to acquire the vast land-holdings where he built Villa Borghese, now one of the most important Museums in Rome.
Scipione was oriented towards his own sex, and this led to full-blown scandals. In 1605, soon after being made a cardinal, Borghese wanted to bring to Rome Stefano Pignattelli, his intimate “friend”.
Paul V compelled Stefano to move out of Shipone’s house, but the cardinal doubled his love for his friend and succumbed to a severe melancholy which resuletd in a long and serious illness. Only when Stefano was allowed to return to Rome to look after Scipione, did the cardinal recover.
Shipione’s uncle the pope, thereupon decided that in order to keep a check on Pignattelli he must co-opt, rather than combat, him. He had Stefano ordained, the beginning of a carreer which led to his becoming a cardinal in 1621. But Stefano died in 1623. Scipione died ten years later.
- Sergius & Bacchus, 7th October: Patron Saints of Same Sex Lovers? (queering-the-church.com)
- Gay Popes, Papal Sodomites
- The Medieval Flowering of Homoerotic Christianity
- Gay Lovers in Church History
- GLBT History Month (extensive resources, videos)
- GLBT History Month Kicks Off Today (pinkbananaworld.com)
- October is GLBT History Month (gayrights.change.org)
Recommended Related Books:
Aldrich, Robert and Wotherspoon, Garry: Who’s Who in Gay and Lesbian History: From Antiquity to the Mid-Twentieth Century
Boswell, John: Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe
Bray, Alan: The Friend
Crompton, Louis: Homosexuality and Civilization
Greenberg, Stephen F: The Construction of Homosexuality
Jordan, Mark D: The Silence of Sodom: Homosexuality in Modern Catholicism
Naphy, William: Born to be Gay: A History of Homosexuality