Editor’s Note: On Dec. 8th, Pope Francis will give the Golden Rose award to the image of Our Lady, at Santa Maria Maggiore. In years past he has left soccer balls on her altar, but this year he imitates Pope Julius III who was the first to donate such a gift. But the optics here are totally off. For Julius III was a notorious pedophile and sodomite who lived in sin during his pontificate with an adopted lover, known as Innocenzo; or at least that is how history characterizes the relationship with the street urchin, whom the Pope had his brother adopt, and whom upon his own elevation to the Pontificate, made a Cardinal. Read the whole sordid story here. The Venetian ambassador in those days said of Julius III, that “there was something off in his head”. A comment which might be repeated in Rome in our own days. — Personally, I have never felt more proud, that my paternal family comes from Venice.