My children, before God, before the consecrated Host, with the enemy already in the convent, I confirm to you my doctrine… My last counsel is this: let faith, patience, and prayers be your arms. I leave you with anguish and grief, to put myself into the hands of my enemies. I know not whether they will take away my life; but I am certain that if I must die, I shall be able to aid you in heaven more than I have been able to do on earth. Be comforted, embrace the cross, and with that you will find the harbor of safety.
– Girolamo Savonarola (Palm Sunday, 1498). He was forced to endure an auto-da-fé on the vigil of the Ascension, 23 May 1498, and then following this public penance, he was handed over to the civil authorities, along with two other friars, to be hanged and burned at the stake, and their ashes and all earthly remains to be dumped unceremoniously into the Arno River.
The pope who orchestrated all of this was Alexander VI, who is historically associated simony and nepotism and libertinism, as he fathered four sons and one daughter illegitimately, and publicly acknowledged his offspring, and used his position and power to benefit his family, the Borgias. He is also alleged to have fathered Giovanni Borgia, “infans Romanus” (“Child of Rome”, c. 1498) from possibly an incestuous union with his daughter Lucrezia, though she only admitted the boy to be her half-brother. Lucrezia is thought to have on at least one occasion officiated in the papal chair, in place of her father, during an official Vatican function. Among her descendants are Diana, Princess of Wales (1961–1997), and her two sons.
Savonarola preached against this depravity, and not against the papacy or the Roman Church. He also championed the Florentine Republic and not the Medici’s and their despotism.