The Avignonese Papacy

Extract from Father Terry’s Verbal Conscience website (, Handout 132

Petrarch’s invectives against Avignon

[Editor’s note:Petrarch (1304-1374 A.D.) spent part of his life in Avignon, where he had become enamored of Laura, whom he celebrates in his poems. Despite his indignation, he did not despise the favors of the popes of Avignon.]

Avignon is impious Babylon, a living hell, a sink of iniquity. There one finds neither faith nor charity nor religion nor fear of God nor shame; nothing is true, nothing is holy; although the residence of the sovereign pontiff should have made it the sanctuary and stronghold of religion … Of all the cities that I know, it is the most corrupt. How shameful to see it suddenly become the capital of the world, when it should only occupy the last place.

The cardinals! … Whereas the apostles went barefoot, we now see satraps mounted on horses caparisoned with gold; already they eat with gold and soon they will have gold roads, unless God represses their insolent luxury. One would take them for kings of Persia, or Parthians who had to be revered, and whom one would not dare to approach with empty hands.