Spirit and Flesh


Margarita Luti (aka La Fornarina, the Baker Girl)


There’s an odd cultural mix here, and always has been.  The same street vendors who sell pious photographs of Pope St. John XXIII and Pope St. John Paul II and (my favorite) bobble-head dolls of current Pope Francis also sell pornographic tee shirts.  The artist Raphael postponed marriage until, dying in his late thirties, it was too late.  His biographers think that he was holding out in hopes of being named a cardinal of the Church.  In the meantime, though, he was notoriously promiscuous, and he became fatally ill, apparently, after a marathon night spent with his favorite mistress, Margarita Luti.


When I was growing up, we had a superintendent at my father’s construction business who was living with a woman not his wife, and who boasted of never attending church nor making confession.  He couldn’t stand priests, and always made fun of them.  Once every year, though, he made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, crawling for blocks on his knees.  Then it was back to normal life.


Posted from Rome, Italy



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