This fresco in one of the Roman basilicas is the only
surviving depiction of Old St' Peter's which was torn
down by Julius II to build the current St, Peter's.
So where is the money going to come from to pay for this basilica? Welll, there were various sources of income. The Papal States, like other nations, have taxes. They also have monopolies on certain items. Central Italy—the Papal States—contained some of the richest alum mines in the world and alum was a necessity for the dying of cloth and Europe’s economy rested heavily on the cloth trade. But still—this was barely enough. Well there were a wide variety of fees coming in to Rome. Every Archbishop, bishop, abbot, cathedral dean, and other major official needed to have his election or appointment confirmed by the Holy See. He was expected to pay the “annate”—the first year’s income from his new post—to the Holy See. Moreover, during the time the see or abbacy or deanery had been empty—its income was frequently appropriated by the Holy See. Money was flowing into Rome from every part of Europe! Lots of money! Renaissances are not cheap! When kings and dukes and minor nobles needed to have a marriage annulled—well there were fees for that sort of thing. A university or a cathedral or a monastic foundation required a certain privilege that exempted them from a particular law or obligation or gave them some honor over their peers—it could be arranged, for a price. During the reign of Julius II, a young Augustinian friar was sent down to Rome from Germany on business for his congregation. Entering the city through the Flaminian Gate—he fell to his knees on the site of today’s Piazza del Popolo (in front of the Church and monastery of Santa Maria del Popolo where he would live for his stay in Rome, and cried “Hail, Holy Rome—thrice Holy for the Blood of the Martyrs shed here. When he left Rome a month later he had a different opinion. “Everything is for sale in Rome,” he would declare. And indeed it was!!! This was the visit of Martin Luther and it established a direct connection between the construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Reformation.