Bartolomeo Brandano - Prophesies the fall of Rome
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The story of prophecy – Henry James Forman
In the spring of 1517, a lovely season in Rome, appeared a poor hermit from Siena and, wandering through the main thoroughfares of the Eternal City, he cried out:
“Woe! Woe! Woe to the city devoted to destruction, which must fall a prey to the transalpine nations, owing to the grave sins of pope and prelates!"
Yet here was an opulent city, which had not been attacked for five centuries (since Robert Guiscard), full of rich burghers, citizens, merchants, papal soldiers, priests, guards and prelates filling the streets; Pope Clement VIII was in his palace - it was spring-time - all was right with the world; and a crack-brained hermit dared to cry "woe to the city of destruction!"
He was almost immediately arrested by order of the pope and clapped into prison. In a little while he was released and warned to leave the city at once, on pain of being thrown into the Tiber, should he ever return.
With that penchant for courting inconvenience characteristic of prophets, however, the hermit, Bartolomeo Brandano, came back and did precisely the same thing over again, proclaiming the vengeance of a just God on both city and clergy, calling Clement a false pope and making himself generally unpleasant.
Crack-brained or not, that over-zealous hermit was too much for Pope Clement. Into the Tiber he was duly thrown, and, when he failed to drown, he was once again locked up in jail.
What happened then? Did the city actually "fall a prey to the transalpine nations"? Just ten years later a rabble of mercenaries of the Emperor Charles V, under Charles de Bourbon, to the cry of "Blood and the Bourbon!” broke into Rome and sacked and raped and pillaged and murdered until they were drunk with blood.
Benvenuto Cellini claims to have been a bombardier against that cut-throat horde. In any case, Clement subsequently signed an ignominious treaty of capitulation with the emperor, and not impossibly made some sombre reflections on the hermit Brandano who, incidentally, was released from prison by these conquering imperial soldiers, after several years of paying the price of prophesying.