On this day, June 23, 1295, the current Pope, Boniface VII “entered Rome” as they say, and made it — for a time being, at least — the center of the papacy. This is perhaps an historical event of not too much current interest, except to historians and maybe some of us who were raised Catholic. Boniface and all his troubles and triumphs and troubles again (he was Pope only from 1294 to 1303, when he was perhaps murdered) represents a bloody period in the history of the Roman Catholicism as well as the history of Europe in general, so it’s not too surprising to hear that he was a bloody type. What is a little disconcerting is to hear the story of the sack of Palestrina, a city which had surrendered with the understanding that it would be left standing. Boniface not only saw to that the city was utterly destroyed, but also poured salt on the ruins. He appear in Dante’s Inferno inhabiting the seventh ring of hell. Not for his conduct at Palestrina, but as a simonist, one guilty of selling church relics and favors.
On This Day