- the Würzburg Residence
The bishops of bling will fight for their things
[...] The Catholic church has a long history of extravagance, and sometimes the old ways are slow to die. Though Pope Francis started off by setting new simple sartorial standards, when it comes to throwing out real estate the Vatican elite may prove more resistant. There is a story doing the Vatican gossip rounds of a cardinal turning up in a church to celebrate mass and being offered a splendid red cappa magna to wear. A cappa magna is the liturgical equivalent of an opera cape – all billowing watered silk and a train that would rival Princess Diana's wedding dress. The cardinal refused, saying: "I sold mine after the second Vatican council, and gave the money to the poor." The master of ceremonies gave the curt reply: "It's a shame you didn't sell one of your two villas, and give the proceeds from that to the poor." It may be just a story, but it expresses the feeling of double standards within the Vatican community over self-conscious economy ....
Historically, British medieval cardinals got carried away with grand designs – Henry VIII's jealousy over Cardinal Wolsey's Hampton Court cost the cardinal both his palace and his position. A few hundred years later, the church in Germany became the most ambitious bling builders of them all. The episcopal residences of the prince-bishops of what became Germany and Austria are staggering, capricious and outrageous feasts of excess. The Würzburg Residence, a 400-room baroque masterpiece that is rivalled only by Versailles in lavish appointment, comes complete with frescos by Tiepolo. Napoleon dubbed it the "nicest parsonage in Europe". Now a Unesco world heritage site, the Augustusburg and Falkenlust palaces in Brühl were built by the archbishop-elector of Cologne, Clemens August of Bavaria. There was even a gallery from which locals could come and watch the royal archbishop dine below ....
So who is next on Pope Francis's list? Papal adviser Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich, lives in the baroque Holnstein Palace in Freising (previous residence of Pope Benedict when he was Cardinal Ratzinger) and is apparently building a very expensive residence in Rome ....
- Holnstein Palace
- Hampton Court Palace
- the Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces, Brühl
* the word 'ostentatiatory' was coined (I think?) by Jim Butcher :)