Queer Places:
Cathedral of Saint Mary 'Maggiore', 61032 Fano, Province of Pesaro and Urbino
Il Palazzo del Bo, Via 8 Febbraio 1848, 2, 35122 Padua PD

Cosimo Gheri ( Pistoia , 1 August 1513 - Fano , 24 September 1537 ) was an Italian Catholic bishop , of the noble family of the Gheri of Pistoia. Throughout his life, Pier Luigi Farnese was rumoured to be a sodomite, and scandal exploded in 1537, when he was accused in what became known as the ‘rape of Fano’. Farnese, while marching with troops through Fano, was alleged to have raped the young bishop of the city, Cosimo Gheri, who died 40 days afterwards. According to Mario Masini and Giuseppe Portigliotti, ‘The Lutherans took great joy in this, saying that the Catholics had found “a new way of martyring saints”.’ The episode became widely known after it was recounted in Benedetto Varchi's Storia fiorentina but was much used, as well, by Pier Paolo Vergerio, a bishop who converted to Protestantism. In his wake, the accusation of sodomy against Farnese was used by Protestant polemicists in the sixteenth century. The charges were then taken up by ‘patriotic’ Italian historians in the nineteenth century, some of them waging a long battle to prove that the accusations were a product of Protestant calumny, some others producing documents which gave evidence of Farnese's taste for men.

Grandson of Ghero Gheri , former bishop of Fano from 1518 to 1528 , and successor of Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga who was apostolic administrator of the vacant see of the diocese between 1528 and 1530 , at only sixteen he was appointed bishop of Fano by Pope Clement VII with papal bull of 24 June 1530 : nevertheless he will never be consecrated neither priest nor bishop. Fearful of the infectious diseases that raged along the Adriatic coast, after his election as bishop he habitually resided in Padua , where he attended the university and went to Fano only occasionally. [1] According to the writer Benedetto Varchi , Cosimo Gheri would have been the victim of the so-called " Fano outrage ". Pier Luigi Farnese had just been appointed by his father Pope Paul III as Gonfaloniere of the Church ; during the journey undertaken through the Papal State to carry out inspections of the Marche fortresses he arrived in Fano , where he met Gheri who would have welcomed him with all honors. The next day the Farnese would meet the bishop again, expressing his intentions: "He began, touching and teasing the bishop, to want to do the most dishonest acts that can be done with females." ( Benedetto Varchi in: Florentine history , 1547 ) However, seeing that the bishop was not available, indeed, he would have defended himself rather decisively, Pier Luigi would have him tied up and, under the threat of daggers , would have raped him . Not enduring the humiliation for the outrage suffered, the bishop would die after a few weeks. Someone speculates that the bishop was poisoned by Pier Luigi himself, so as not to leak the news of the rape.

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