Inevitably, I must comment on the novel that bears my illustrious name.
It appears as if it’s an honor.
Yet, I was appalled by my Gothic-like visage on the front cover. I wouldn’t mind hitting Lou Pecsi, the illustrator, over the head with my crozier. Then I actually started to read it. I nearly read half the novel before I made my entrance – that’s one hundred and eighty more pages than I planned to read.
The title refers, really, to the high school and not the great Renaissance Pope. I detected the author’s sardonic take on my Papacy since, I’m certain, there are no schools in the United States and Europe which bear my name. The Catholics want my legacy buried deeply.
I admit I enjoyed the touch of having Sixtus IV High’s rival school named Alexander VI. That’s verisimilitude. Placing two mad dogs in a cage. An epic battle and lots of blood and bad feelings.
Less exciting was the presence of Pope John Paul II, who gets a major role in the plot. He’s coming to Sixtus High to celebrate the 500th anniversary of my death and, on the occasion, makes a major announcement. I’m not tickled by the substance of his declaration – but no spoilers!
Very mixed feelings filled me when I read the chapter dealing directly with my Papacy. What does the author choose: the conspiracy to kill the Medici brothers, Lorenzo and Giuliano. I’m depicted like a Mafia don, who is being asked by a pair of Cardinals (nephews), to sanction the hit. I don’t dispute the historical accuracy, down to the point that I was very reluctant to give my blessing.
And wasn’t I right about that?
The job gets farmed out to the Urbino mercenary, Federico da Montefeltro, who farms it out to a rival Florentine family, Pazzi, who balled up the plan by killing only Giuliano. I confess that a part of me was pleased when the Medici killed every last Pazzi over the next few years.
The lessons from this disaster. Don’t listen to your friggin’ nephews’ bright ideas. You want somebody killed, plan and execute it yourself. And don’t mess with the Medici.
I suppose some readers are going to think that I must have been a pretty awful pope. See the first blog, ‘Indulge Me’, to digest my response to such lame criticism.
I read the rest of the book for no better reason than I don’t have much else to do. I’ll write some reviews on the Amazon website under various aliases, just to get a little payback.