<h2> The Keeper of Christianity </h2>
DRAGON<br />


The Keeper of Christianity



The symbol of the Boncompagni family is a dragon with wings and no tail. It can be found in its former Papal version, complete with a tiara and the keys of St. Peter, at the entrance portal of the Palazzo in Via del Monte. It can also be seen on the mosaic floors, in the grotesques of the reception and in the center of the wooden coffered ceilings found in various rooms.

Stemma Gregorio XIII Musei Vaticani
Stemma Palazzo Boncompagni

The Protestant enemies of the Pope, against whom Gregory XIII fought tenaciously, saw the antichrist in this symbol, precisely to weaken the figure of their antagonist. As a result, Gregory’s son Giacomo invited intellectuals who gravitated around the Roman curia to seek and provide a positive interpretation of it.

Thus spread the legend according to which the dragon is an animal endowed with formidable sight and, therefore, as the animal sees dangers from afar, so Gregory XIII would have guarded and watched over the destinies of Christianity.

Draco bononiensis di Aldrovandi - Serpentum et draconum historiae - 1639

Draco bononiensis di Aldrovandi – Serpentum et draconum historiae – 1639

Draco bononiensis
by Aldrovandi

To substantiate the legend, Ulisse Aldrovandi, a great Bolognese scientist and relative of Gregory XIII, announced that, precisely in the days of the Pope’s election, a dragon had been discovered in the Bolognese countryside. In reality, it was nothing more than a fake crafted by Aldrovandi himself. He had inflated the belly of a large snake and applied a fish head and bird legs.

Palazzo Boncompagni Drago