Donation of Rome

frescoed 1523-24
Guilio Romano (c.1499-1546), after a design by Raphael and
Giovan Francesco Penni (c.1488-1528)

The emperor Constantine kneels before Pope Sylvester in the act of offering him the city of Rome, symbolized by the golden statue. The foundation of the state of the church and justification for the temporal power of the Popes was based on this episode (subsequently proved to be legendary). Sylvester has the traits of the Medici Pope Clement VII (1523-1534) and the episode documents the interior, later destroyed, of the old early Christian basilica of St Peter's.

header image: School of Athens, detail
Raphael, 1510

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