Leo X becomes pope – March 11, 1513
This week marks the anniversary of when Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici was elected the head of the Roman Catholic Church at the age of 38, becoming Pope Leo X.
The first of four popes from the influential Medici family, Leo X became infamous for his lavish spending on the arts, as well as being the pontiff who first butted heads with Martin Luther.
“[Pope Leo X] gave himself up unrestrainedly to amusements and pageantry that he provided in lavish abundance, not only with Church money, but also with his own. He sponsored the theater, music, art and poetry, and hosted endless banquets and dances. He even had a pet white elephant named Hanno,” noted Inside the Vatican.
“Although a spendthrift, Leo was a holy man and a great benefactor to charity: retirement homes, hospitals, poor students, the sick, and the arts. He reorganized the University of Rome and promoted the study of literature, poetry, and archeology.”