Tomorrow, 18 August, is The Feast of Borgia, Pope Alexander VI. Pope Alexander VI, born Rodrigo de Borja 1 January 1431, was Pope from 11 August 1492 until his death on 18 August 1503. According to The Invisible Basilica of Sabazius, Alexander “is remembered by Catholics as one of the most ‘decadent’ of the Renaissance Popes.”
Alexander VI was in fact a popular Pope during his day: he was a patron of the arts and a political statesman, who repelled a French attempt to assert control over Italy, liberated the Papal States from petty land barons, called for a league of Christian States against the Turks and was tolerant toward the Jews. He was also partial to the Qabalah, and he granted absolution to Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, a Christian Qabalist and student of Raymond Lully and Marcilio Ficino, who had been accused of heresy by the Inquisition under Pope Innocent VIII. Michelangelo created the Pietà for Alexander.
Learn more about Pope Alexander VI:
- Roderic Borgia, Pope Alexander the Sixth (1431-1503 e.v.)
- Pope Hosts Scandalous Ballet of Chestnuts
- Was The Banquet of Chestnuts a Pinnacle of Religious Hypocrisy or Just One Hell Of a Party?
- Immortal Meals #7: Papal Orgies
In memory of Pope Alexander and his penchant for parties, we offer this delicious Italian recipe:
- 1½ cups chestnut flour
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tbs baking powder
- 2 tbs cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 2 tbs honey, plus more for serving
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup dried cranberries, plumped in ¼ cup warm water (or wine – preferably Vin Santo)
- ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
- Preheat oven to 350 °F. Prepare a 9-inch cake pan by lightly brushing it with olive oil. Reserve.
- In a large bowl, swift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey, eggs and milk.
- Slowly pour the liquids into the dry ingredients, whisking very well to avoid lumps. The batter should be smooth and a bit liquidy.
- Reserve some of the nuts and fruits to sprinkle on top of cake. Add the remaining to the batter, mixing until evenly distributed.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle the nuts/fruits on top and bake for 35 minutes, or until the cake begins to puff slightly and the middle is set. Remove from the oven and cool completely before removing from pan.
- Dust lightly with confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder and serve with some warm honey.