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Fourth Raphael Room - “Stanza dell’Incendio del Borgo” (“Room of the Fire in the Borgo"), Rome

Overview

'Stanza dell'incendio del Borgo' ('Room of the Fire in the Borgo')
'Stanza dell'incendio del Borgo' ('Room of the Fire in the Borgo')

Photo by 0ro1 on Wikimedia Commons

'Stanza dell'incendio del Borgo' ('Room of the Fire in the Borgo')
'Stanza dell'incendio del Borgo' ('Room of the Fire in the Borgo')

Photo by 0ro1 on Wikimedia Commons

The fourth and last room is "Stanza dell'incendio del Borgo" ("Room of the Fire in the Borgo"), and was the third room completed, painted between 1514 and 1517. During the Pope Julius II papacy, the room was used for the meetings of the supreme papal tribunal, the highest judicial authority in the Catholic Church after the Pope, called "Segnatura Gratiae et Iustitiae" ("Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura" or simply "Apostolic Signatura"), which was investigating and preparing the signing - hence the name signatura - of petitions and other cases presented to the Holy See. Later, around mid 16th century, the tribunal's meetings moved to the Stanza della Segnatura, and this room was used as a dining room. The frescoes were commissioned by Pope Leo X, and represents scenes from Popes Leo III and Leo IV's papacies. Six seated emperors and sovereigns who are protectors of the church are depicted in the monochromes below the paintings.

Ceiling

Ceiling
Ceiling

The ceiling was commissioned by Pope Julius II to Pietro Vannucci (also called Perugino). It is divided in four, and each section represents the "Most Holy Trinity" in a medallion: the "Creator enthroned among angels and cherubs", "Christ as Sol Iustitiae" ("Christ as the Sun of Justice"), "Christ tempted by the devil", and "Christ between Mercy and Justice".

Battle of Ostia

Battle of Ostia
Battle of Ostia

"Battle of Ostia" on the East wall, executed between 1509 and 1511. The fresco represents the battle of Ostia, which took place in 849, during Pope Leo IV's papacy. It was fought in the Tyrrhenian Sea, between Arab pirates and a Christian army of Papal, Neapolitan, Amalfitan and Gaetan ships. During the battle, a huge storm divided the Christian and Muslim ships, with the Christians being able to return to land. The Muslims were heavily affected, with many ships lost, and were easily defeated after the storm. In the painting Pope Leo IV, with the features of Pope Leo X, is shown giving a prayer of gratitude for the miraculous victory of the papal armies.

The Fire in the Borgo

The Fire in the Borgo
The Fire in the Borgo

"The Fire in the Borgo" on the South wall, painted between 1514 and 1517. Executed after Raphael's designs, it is believed it was painted by his assistant Giulio Romano. It represents an event documented in the Liber Pontificalis: a fire that broke out in the Borgo, the neighbourhood in front of St Peter's basilica in Rome, in 847. Pope Leo IV contained and extinguished the fire with his benediction from the "Loggia of the Blessings", a balcony from the Old Saint Peter's Basilica. The room was named after this fresco.

The Coronation of Charlemagne

The Coronation of Charlemagne
The Coronation of Charlemagne

"The Coronation of Charlemagne" on the West wall, painted between 1516 and 1517. Executed after Raphael's designs, it is believed it was painted by his assistant Gianfrancesco Penni. The coronation of Charlemagne, which took place in St Peter's on Christmas night in 800 A.D., formed the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire. Since Leo III is in fact a portrait of Leo X and Charlemagne a portrait of Francis I, it is believed that it refers to the Concordat of Bologna from 1516 between Pope Leo X and King Francis I of France, which gave the Pope the right to collect all the income that the Catholic Church made in France, and gave the king control over the church in France and to nominate the clerics.

The Justification of Leo III

The Justification of Leo III ((or Oath of Leo III)
The Justification of Leo III ((or Oath of Leo III)

Photo by Artworksforever on Wikimedia Commons

"The Justification of Leo III" (or "Oath of Leo III") on the North wall The Justification of Leo III illustrates an episode that took place the day before the crowning of Charlemagne, on December 23, 800 A.D., when the Pope, responding to the charges brought against him by the nephews of his predecessor Hadrian, took an oath of purgation and reaffirmed the principle that the vicar of Christ is responsible to God alone for his actions.