Cardinal Prospero Publicola Santacroce

View of Villa Gerocomio

Bronze, 55 mm Ø, 77.4 g
By Federico Cocciola, 1579.
Obverse:  Bust of Prospero Santacroce facing right, tonsured and bearded, wearing a hooded cassock. Around, · PROSPER · SANCTACRVCIVS · S · R · E · CARD · (Prospero Santacroce, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church). On truncation, FED COC (Federico Cocciola).
Reverse:  View of the planned Villa Gerocomio, its garden, entry gate, and the surrounding hills. Around, in spaced out letters, GEROCOMIO . Below, 1579 .

Prospero Publicola Santacroce (1514-1589) was born in Rome and was created cardinal by Pope Pius IV in 1565. He was Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals from January 9, 1581 to January 8, 1582.

In 1579, he purchased a strip of land four miles east of Tivoli on which he planned to build his retirement villa. Built on the remains of an ancient Roman villa, its name, Villa Gerocomio, comes from a Greek word meaning retreat for the aged. The reverse of the medal shows how Santacroce envisioned the villa, with a garden, fish pond, grove, aviary, and other accompaniments. However, it seems that the plan was never realized as there are no traces of the structures on the grounds.

References:

Attwood 2003, no. 972

Börner 1997, no. 486

Johnson 1990, no. 49

Johnson and Martini 1994, nos. 1903-1905

Pollard 2007, no. 434

Toderi and Vannel 2000, no. 2345