By Nate Nkumbu

Popes by natures are supposed to be holy men, ordained by God and the church to lead the Catholic faith.

Not every pope however follows those church rules.

One pope that was infamous for breaking rules was Pope Alexander VI.

Born Roderic Borgia, Pope Alexander VI was the leader of the papacy from 1492 to his death in 1503.

A controversial pope who had fathered children with many mistresses, Alexander VI’s name is now a stand in for all of the vice and nepotism that was once associated with the Catholic church.

He embraced the temporal role of the church and his family wielded real power in the affairs of war and politics.

Not exactly a Pope Peter lookalike.

One of Rome's few memorials of the first Borgia pope, Calixtus III, from the tail end of the fifteenth century. Photo Credit: Anthony Majanlahti/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)
One of Rome’s few memorials of the first Borgia pope, Calixtus III, from the tail end of the fifteenth century. Photo Credit: Anthony Majanlahti/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

According to Lawrence Cunningham, a Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, while Alexander VI might have been a bad Pope to the Catholic Church, he was beloved and respected by people during his time.

“He was great patronage of the arts during the renaissance and commissioned the likes of Michelangelo and Raphael to work for the vatican and for him,” Cunningham said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “He was important to the new world as he corresponded with the Spanish crown about confirming the discovery.”

Interestingly enough, while often thought as a family only found in a history book, the Borgia’s are still around today.

Borgia’s children that he sired with his mistresses left a legacy of their own.

One of his children’s descendants, Rodrigo Borja Cevallos became president of Ecuador in 1988 at a time when Ecuador was suffering one it’s worst economic crisis.

There was not much Cevallos could do to fix the situation and he was ousted within four years.    

But still. How cool is that?

The Borgia family legacy isn’t just held to a descendant becoming president of Ecuador.

Cunningham said that his direct line had influenced The Renaissance and the rise of political realism in a major way.

“Pope Alexander’s daughter Lucrezia would become source for Machiavelli’s The Prince,” Cunningham said. “The Borgia family would have people become dukes, lords and so on. So Pope Alexander VI’s influence still exists to this day.”       

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Sharat Ganapati/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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