Historians often consider the years from 1484 to 1492 the darkest in the papal history of the Church.
Pope Innocent VIII certainly affected the life of Ambrose Massari O.S.A. (Ambrogio Massari da Cori) in a way unique in the history of the office of Prior_General of the Order of Saint Augustine.
On a cold morning in February 1485, the members of the Curia Generalizia (international leadership) of the Order of Saint Augustine were in the residence of Convento Sant’Agostino, Rome.
They had just come from morning prayer, when the doorbell rang.
When the door was opened, a lay official of the Pope entered with some guards.
He asked to be taken immediately to the Prior_General, Ambrose Massari O.S.A.
He informed Ambrose Massari that he brought an order from the Pope.
Ambrose was to be taken by the guards and immediately imprisoned in the Mausoleo di Adrian (the tomb that the Emperor Hadrian had built) in the fortress now called the Castel Sant' Angelo close to Vatican City.
(The Castel Sant' Angelo is a national museum. It is famous as the location of the suicide scene in the opera Tosca by Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini – to use his full name!)
Massari was not to be the only person imprisoned in the Castel Sant' Angelo. It was used as a prison by the Roman Inquisition.
Eight years later, between 1593 and 1600 it held Giordano Bruno, a former Dominican priest, philosopher and occultist.
There Giordano Bruno was chained and tortured. In the only execution ever ordered by the Roman Inquisition, he was burned at the stake in the Campo de’Fiori on 19th February 1600 (see picture 4).
This was during the papacy of Innocent VIII, the Pope who also had imprisoned Ambrose Massari O.S.A..
(For the pages on Augnet about the another famous Augustinian prisoner in Augustinian history, Luis de Leon O.S.A. of Salamanca in Spain, click here.)
Photos (at right):
Picture 1: Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome.
Picture 2: Castel Sant'Angelo and bridge, Rome.
Picture 3: Statue of angel on the bridge.
Picture 4: Statue of Giordano Bruni in Campo di Fiori, where he was burned at the stake (see text above).