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The Sistine Chapel is named after his commissioner, Sixtus IV della
Rovere (1471-1484), who decided to have a large room built where the
once stood. The “Cappella
was a mediaeval fortified hall that the Papal Court used for
assemblies. At that time, it was made up of about 200 members: a
college of 20 cardinals, representatives of religious orders and
important families, a choir, and a large number of laymen and
servants. The Sistine construction was also to be a defensive
structure, warding off both the Medici family, because of the
continuous tension between the rulers of Florence and the Pope, and
Muhammad II’s Turks, who at that time were threatening the western
coast of Italy. Its construction started in 1475, during the Jubilee
Year proclaimed by Sixtus IV, and ended in 1483, when on August 15th
the Pope solemnly inaugurated the new Chapel dedicated to Our Lady
of the Assumption. The project, designed by Baccio Pontelli,
included the use of a third of the height of the existing mediaeval
The Queen, who converted to Catholicism and abdicated the throne, is shown in a gilt and bronze medallion, supported by a crowned skull. There are three reliefs on the urn: Christina relinquishes the throne of Sweden to embrace Catholicism (center), the scorn of the nobility (right), faith which triumphs over heresy (left).
Christina (18 December [O.S. 8 December] 1626 – 19 April 1689) reigned as Queen of Sweden from 1632 until her abdication in 1654. She was the only surviving legitimate child of King Gustav II Adolph and his wife Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg. At the age of six, Christina succeeded her father on the throne upon his death at the Battle of Lützen, but began ruling when she reached the age of 18.
Christina is remembered as one of the most educated women of the 17th century. She was fond of books, manuscripts, paintings, and sculptures. With her interest in religion, philosophy, mathematics and alchemy, she attracted many scientists to Stockholm, wanting the city to become the "Athens of the North." She was intelligent, fickle and moody; she rejected what the sexual role of a woman was at the time. She caused a scandal when she decided not to marry and in 1654 when she abdicated her throne and converted to Roman Catholicism. She changed her name from Kristina Augusta Wasa, adopting the name Christina Alexandra.
At the age of 28, the "Minerva of the North" relinquished the throne to her cousin and moved to Rome. The Pope described Christina as "a queen without a realm, a Christian without faith, and a woman without shame. Notwithstanding all that, she became a leader of the theatrical and musical life and protected many Baroque artists, composers, and musicians.
Being the guest of five consecutive popes, and a symbol of the Counter Reformation, she is one of the few women buried in the Vatican grotto. Her unconventional lifestyle and masculine dressing and behavior have been featured in countless novels, plays, operas, and film. In all the biographies about Christina, her gender and cultural identity play an important role.
Juliana belonged to the
noble Falconieri family of
Alexis Falconieri, was one of the seven
founders of the
Under his influence, she decided at a young age to follow the
After her father's death, she received c. 1285 the habit of the
Third Order of the Servites from
Philip Benizi, then
of that Order. She remained at home following the rule Benizi had
given her until her mother's death, when Juliana and several
companions moved into a house of their own in 1305. This became the
the Sisters of the Third Order of Servites. Juliana would serve as
until the end of her life.
The Servites' dress consisted of a black gown, secured by a leather girdle, and a white veil. Because the gown had short sleeves to facilitate work, people called the sisters of the new Order "Mantellate." The sisters devoted themselves especially to the care of the sick and other works of mercy. It is said that
A putative miracle
mentioned in the liturgical texts for her
feast day, is
said to have occurred at Juliana's death. At this time, unable to
because of constant vomiting, she requested the priest to spread a
her chest and lay the
on it. Shortly thereafter, the host disappeared and Juliana died, on
June 19, 1341. The image of a
cross, just like the one on the host, was found on her breast.