Cardinal Rodolfo Pio Da Carpi: The beginning of my Story

Click here to read this blog post in Italian.

Cardinal Rodolfo Pio Da Carpi

Rodolfo was the grandson of Leonello Pio da Carpi, who commissioned the Sacra Famiglia, now known as Madonna of Divine Love painting on canvas, by Raffaello in 1514. It was written by Giorgio Vasari when he had seen the painting and described it in his book written in 1544, as: “of marvelous coloring and outstanding beauty. This is a work of such strength and such enchanting delicacy that I cannot see how it could ever be surpassed. Nothing could be finer than the supernatural expression shown in the countenance of Our Lady and the modesty of her attitude: she sits with her hands clasped, adoring her son who is sitting in her lap and caressing the little St. John who is also worshipping him, as are St. Elizabeth and Joseph.”

Pictured is a painting of Giogio Vasari the Renaissance Art Historian.


The Grandfather of Rodolfo, Leonello the elder had a daughter, Camilla, that went into the convent, a son Prince Alberto III, Lord of Carpi, diplomat and humanist at the court of Pope Clemente VII, and Leonello father of Rodolfo.


Rodolfo was born in Carpi in February 1500. He studied philosophy and theology at the University of Pavia and then completed his humanistic judicial preparation in Rome.


His Father was Leonello (son of the elder Leonello), his Mother was Maria Martinengo and his Uncle was Prince Alberto III, the last Lord of Carpi.

Rodolfo Pio da Carpi’s Uncle, Alberto Pio da Carpi


Rodolfo was born and lived in Carpi until 1525 when his uncle Prince Alberto III lost the Principality of Carpi after the battle of Pavia.

Palace in the Town of Carpi, Pio da Carpi Family Residence until the Principality was lost in 1525.

From that time the Pio da Carpi family lived in Campo Marzio in Rome, the so-called Carpensi Garden also called Campo dei Fiori, close to the Quirinale and the residential area included a magnificent vineyard and a stupendous rich collection minutely described by Ulisse Aldrovandi who wrote “standing in front of the beauty of those gardens so superbly ornate, it was paradise on earth….”


Rodolfo was nominated Bishop when he was 28 years old, on November 13, 1528. Soon after, Pope Clemente VII sent him on a delicate mission to Florence, to settle a dispute with the Medici Family.


In 1533 the Pope also sent Rodolfo to Turin to meet with the Duke of Savoy, Carlo III, to promote a meeting with Francis I. King of France.


On January 9, 1535, Pope Clemente VII died and Pope Paul III was his successor.


Pope Paul’s family name was Alessandro Farnese, owner of the Sacra Famiglia, now known as Madonna of Divine Love, painting on wood of 1518 also attributed to Raffaello, now is in the collection of CapodiMonte Museum, Naples and is the subject of my story.


Rodolfo Pio received the Nunziatura (nomination) to be Cardinal, at the court of Pope Paul III, on December 22, 1536.

Pictured: Pope Paul III, born Alessandro Farnese, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 13 October 1534 to his death in 1549.


The Cardinal Rodolfo Pio da Carpi life story will follow in a future blog post.

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