A recent article by Edward Snow sheds an ‘interesting’ light upon the high, spiritual value in which astrologers were held by medieval Rome. Sadly however, ignorance, fear and religious control issues proved to be the death knell for this sacred science. Fortunately in more recent times, wiser perspectives are bringing legitimate astrology to forefront again. Through the lenses of evolutionary, cartographical, financial and medical astrology for example, outmoded, fear-mongering myths are finally being relegated to the dungeon. Snow’s article is certainly ‘worth the read!’
Saint Peter’s Basilica an Astrological Triumph
When the Holy Father and other sixteenth century leaders of the Roman Catholic Church sat down to plan construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome the first person they reached out to was not Michelangelo or any of the other architects or designers who worked on the project.
“Saint Peter’s Basilica is considered by many to be an enduring affirmation of a centuries old theology and a grand example of Renaissance architecture. Astrology may not come to mind immediately for the millions of visitors who take in the spectacle of the awe-inspiring building each year, but construction of the church was in fact begun on a certain date and at a precise time chosen for its astrological significance,” says Mary Quinlan-McGrath, a professor of art history at Northern Illinois University (NIU) and author of Influences: Art, Optics and Astrology in the Italian Renaissance.
Quinlan-McGrath writes that before any work began the astrologers of Pope Julius II established that the horoscope for the start-up of construction (April 18, 1506 at 10 a.m.) correlated with both the horoscope for the presumed birth of the world and the birth horoscope of Christ.
“The locations on the horoscope chart of the Sun, Venus and Mercury indicated benevolence while that of Saturn and Mars suggested power and longevity. Jupiter’s location was propitious as well, promising wealth,” she observed.
Quinlan-McGrath says Pope Julius II and his Renaissance architects believed that “the concordance of the heavens and the radiation emanating from the cosmos provided protection for the building at the time of its founding and, in turn, the building would continue to radiate these powers upon the people associated with it over the centuries.”
In the current era, modern astrologers aren’t likely to go along with the date their medieval counterparts used for the birth of the world. And the date divined for Christ’s birth is suspect as well.
However, despite these factual stingers, most contemporary astrologers would probably agree that Vatican astrologers did an excellent job of finding an enduring electional chart for the start of construction.
Using modern computers, astrologers can swiftly pull up a birth chart that displays the heavens precisely as they looked on April 18, 1506 at 10 a.m. in Rome. The planetary alignments on that day were exceptionally harmonious – with one notable exception.
Medieval astrologers used the sun, moon and visible planets in their calculations. On the Basilica’s electional chart the major stressful aspect is a hard, right-angle alignment between the sun and Saturn, with Saturn dominantly controlling that space on the horoscope wheel astrologers look to for insights on financial matters.
Astrologers in any era would notice that the angular relationship between the sun and the planet associated with hardship and delays (Saturn) would be challenging. And, in fact, the project was plagued by more than a century of financial woes and construction delays, Quinlan-McGrath points out.
Presumably, Vatican astrologers were mindful of the economic stressors the project was fated to face, but had supreme faith in the positive, long-range outcome promised by the electional map.
In her book, Quinlan-McGrath examines the astrological context of the founding of Saint Peter’s as well as the creation of other works of art and architecture in Rome, such as the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican Palace and the lavish Villa Farnesina of Agostino Chigi, an extremely wealthy banker.
She notes that astrological thought permeated the Italian Renaissance. Scientists used mathematical measurements to chart the heavens and theologians and philosophers harmonized religious doctrine with astrological readings, making Saint Peter’s a product of its time.
“The belief that celestial forces could operate through works of art and architecture was not obscure or magical but in harmony with the philosophical, religious and scientific beliefs of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries,” she explains.
ST. PETER’S BASILICA
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Womderful to see that Astrology is being acknowledged again within the Catholic Church despite the bigotry within the Catholic Church who continue to claim it is Pagan/demonic based on a few scriptures from Leviticus, etc ke claim it is pseudoscience. I have one questions thoug
1) how does the Zodiac work in the Sputhern Hemisphere given its’ Northern Hemisphere origin and seasonal basis there? Regards James
James, hello. Many thanks for your comments and of course you’re right, although with the influence of the extremists that still exists, there’s a long way to go; sadly astrology will always have to fight for it’s authenticity, I fear. Like so many things there is negative pontification by those who know absolutely nothing about it, the demand for empirical evidence(like homeopathy) that will never fit into the mechanistic model…how do you prove the existence of the Divine, empirically? So a double standard. As to your question on astrology…there is no difference other than the seasons as you point out which has to do with the solstice and equinoxes. Fortunately today we have excellent computer software that does the mathematical calculations for us which, in my case, allows me to work seamlessly with clients all over the globe. Be well.
Very interesting, thank you for sharing!
I’m legitimately confused as to why this chart was considered auspicious though. Sure, having the same Ascendant as the Thema Mundi could be considered interesting in terms of symbolism, but for the construction of something material that is meant to last I wouldn’t have chosen a Lunar Ascendant. Saturn is exiled, so are Jupiter and Venus, Jupiter is also retrograde, and having Mars and Saturn in copresence sounds like bad news no matter the sign they’re in… Mercury is well-placed, the Sun-Jupiter aspect is nice, and the Moon is unafflicted by Saturn and Mars, so there’s that, but that’s really not an election I would have chosen for this purpose and I’m frankly astounded that professional astrologers did back then!
Azur, thank you for your comments on this…as with most things, interpretation depends on the lens of the observer. I don’t work really with electional astrology as my expertise is through the evolutionary lens…this said, through this lens a few things strike me that lead me to understand why they thought the timing auspicious–and again I emphasize this is a very brief view through the evolutionary lens… you have Saturn in the first, good foundation in Leo for leadership and squared to that significant 10th H Taurus Sun…excellent for creation of a Great Work with motivation and making something happen…similar thinking regarding the square to Mars for material resources and authenticity…Yes Jupiter is Rx but through the evolutionary lens retrograde planets aren’t necessarily a bad thing…the energy is viewed as deep and you could see working behind the scenes, especially with it in Virgo which helps that Jupiter to focus on faith and the perspective of the world that energy is responsible for in the building of such an important structure….The astrologers of the time didn’t of course work with the nodal axis of the moon but I find this placement fascinating in that the north node in the visionary sign of Aquarius and in the house of transformation as the evolutionary path forward, I think is significant. And while venus and Mercury are nicely placed the chart has a preponderance of Cardinal Fire…and what better for this kind of project to have than a Pisces Moon in 9? All very interesting and one can imagine the spirited conversations between astrologers that went on at the time! Thanks again and be well.