Renaissance engraving of Pope Damaso Primo Cavalieri 1587

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Page 39 the book 'Le Vite de' pontefici, di Antonio Ciccarelli,... con l'effigie di Giovan Battista de Cavallieri' (Lives of the Popes by Antonio Ciccarelli ..with engravings by Cavalieri), printed in 1587.


Text on back is associated with engraving of next Pope in book.

Folded upper and lower right corners, waterstained front and back, chipping along left border. May have been repaired (area right of Pope's head). Might be mold LL corner.

21.5 x 15.5 cm


Giovanni Battista de'Cavalieri (1526–1597), an Italian engraver, was born at Lagherino and died at Rome. His style of engraving resembles that of Aeneas Vico. Many of his plates are copies after the great Italian masters; they are etched, and finished with the graver. He was very laborious, and his plates number nearly 380. The following are those most worthy of notice.

  • The Frontispiece, and Heads of the Popes, for the Vite de' Pontifici.

Pope St. Damasus I was born around 305, probably near the city of Egitania, Lusitania, in what is the present-day village of Idanha-a-Velha, Portugal, then part of the Western Roman Empire. His life coincided with the rise of Emperor Constantine I and the reunion and re-division of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, which is associated with the legitimization of Christianity and its later adoption as the official religion of the Roman state in 380.

Damasus is known to have been raised in the service of the Basilica of Saint Lawrence outside the Walls in Rome, and following the death of Pope Liberius, he succeeded to the Papacy amidst factional violence. A group of Damasus' supporters, previously loyal to his opponent Felix, attacked and killed rivals loyal to Liberius' deacon Ursinus in a riot that required the intervention of Emperor Valentinian I to quell.

Damasus faced accusations of murder and adultery (despite having not been married) in his early years as Pope. The neutrality of these claims has come into question with some suggesting that the accusations were motivated by the schismatic conflict with the supporters of Arianism. His personal problems were contrasted with his religious accomplishments, which included restoring Saint Lawrence outside the Walls, encouraging his personal secretary Saint Jerome in his Vulgate translation of the Bible, and presiding over the Council of Rome in 382, which may have set down the canon of Scripture (based upon the Decretum Gelasianum, which some consider a sixth-century work). He also did much to encourage the veneration of the Christian martyrs, restoring and creating access to their tombs in the Catacombs of Rome and elsewhere, and setting up tablets with verse inscriptions composed by himself, several of which survive or are recorded in his Epigrammata.

Damasus has been described as "the first society Pope", and was apparently a member of a group of Iberian Christians, largely related to each other, who were close to the Iberian Theodosius I.

Source: Wikipedia