Sunday 25 May 2014


Leo X by Botero
What can you say to a sixteen-year old, who has just been appointed cardinal?
This is what Lorenzo de’ Medici had to say to his son Giovanni:

  • Lead a saintly, exemplary, and honest life. So far you are doing alright, son. I notice you’ve been to confession and to communion without anyone reminding you.
  • If all the cardinals were good, there would always be a good pope. Hint: why not aim for the top yourself?
  • Persevere in studies suitable to your profession.
  • Of course temptations will be great once you take up residence in Rome, that sink of all iniquities.
  • See what you can do for the family. Assist our House.
  • Use jewels and silken stuff sparingly.
  • Eat plain food and do much exercise.
  • Get up early and draw up the agenda for the day.
  • In the evening, reflect on what you have to do the next day, so that events may not come upon you unawares.Don’t bother the Pope. He is a busy man and grateful if people don’t break his ears. If you see him, talk about amusing things.
It worked! Giovanni became Pope (Leo X) in 1513.
(Source: Jon Thiem, Lorenzo de Medici: Selected Poems and Prose. Image:

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