Eyes of Rome
Eyes of Rome
Never Stand Up A Queen

Never Stand Up A Queen

Written by Katie

Being the guest of five consecutive popes, and a symbol of the Counter Reformation, Queen Christina is one of the few women buried in the Vatican grotto.


Christina of Sweden, the famous protestant queen who officially embraced Catholicism in 1655, arrived in Rome with full honors by pope Alexander VII. Queen Christina was particularly famous for her humongous culture, her hauteur, and her odd behavior deemed immoral by many of her contemporaries.

Villa medici

Her stay in Rome was colored by wild stories. The most legendary one involves the cannonball she once fired at Villa Medici! Cardinal Decio Azzolino, a resident of the villa and a “very dear friend” of the Swedish queen, one day did not turn up for a meeting.

Gossip of that time often accused them of having an affair. After a too long of a wait the queen, purple with rage, ran to Castel Sant’Angelo, took one of the many cannons available on its terrace, and shot at the Cardinal’s door! It seems the imprint of the cannonball is still visible.

Pope Alexander VII described Christina as,

"a queen without a realm, a Christian without faith, and a woman without shame".

Alexander VII

Even so, she became a leader of the theatrical and musical life and protected many Baroque artists, composers, and musicians.

Christinae Alexandrae Suecorum Reginae 172

If you are going to visit Villa Medici, today seat of the Academy of France, have a look at the entrance door and the pretty fountain just across the street.

The cannonball where the water comes out would seem to be the implicated projectile!



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