How it all started.
It were troubled times for the church: Pope Alexander VI (born Rodrigo Lanzol Borgia; 1431–1503) – served as pope from 11 August 1492 until his death on 18 August 1503. He was probably one on the most scandalous popes the history produced. With one of his many mistresses, Vannozza (Giovanna) dei Cattanei, he got four children that he recognized, but many other children with other mistresses. And his four children had all very strange professions: from Lucrezia Borgia it was said that she was a professional hooker (and even in bed with her father, the Pope himself), Cesare Borgia, il Duca di Valentino, was a professional killer ... and we can go on. He added to the college of cardinals twelve new member, one for his son and the rest sold to the highest bidder.
No wonder that people started to stand up against "the establishment" of their days. And in the city where the rennaiscance had started, a monk stood up with the name Savonarolla. He convinced the people of Florence to expulse the Piero the Medici in 1494. Michelangelo lived at their court since Lorenzo the Medici (who died prematurily at the age of 43) ha found him as a very prodigious boy in his academy at the age of 13 years. But when the Medici got expulsed, Michelangelo left with them the city. And we find him back at the age of 23 in Rome, becoming famous after he made in 1500 for a french cardinal the Pietà for the Basilica St. Peter.
Vasari described how Julius II, the Warrior Pope, was in office for only a short time in 1503, when he called up to Michelangelo. He had seen the Pietà in the Basilica and wanted something for himself. It should be big, hughe !!
Michelangelo, only 26 yrs old was summoned to the Pope. And here is starting his Extasy and Agony ! The pope commissioned to start with his funeral monument. Maybe some 50 statues of 18 ft (19 ft was also okay!) and some 100 minor statues of 14 ft (and 15 ft was also okay), elaborated in and architectonical structure of three floors high, and the whole should be constructed on top of the tomb of St. Peter in the Basilica of Costantine.
The extasy for Michelangelo !!! Maybe a whole lifetime long making statues, his dream. I can imagine that he must have lavishly thanked the pope, but maybe he had a small objection: wasn't it that the old St. Peter's Basilica was a little bit too small for such a grandiose project ?
"No Way", said pope Julius II, "We are going to build a new basilica of St. Peter and it should be much bigger than the old one." And so, Bramante, the architect most in view in those days, got the commission to build the new one, and started immediately by destroying the old one.
Meanwhile, Michelangelo went to Carara, where we have the beatiful and translucent marble.
While he was cutting the blocks out of the querry, and sending them to Rome and while doing this, he got a phone-call from his native city Florence.