Antonio del POLLAIOLO
(b. 1431/32, Firenze, d. 1498, Roma)
Tomb of Pope Innocent VIII 1492-98
Gilded bronze, height 549 cm
Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican
The tomb consists of two parts with the deceased represented twice, alive and dead. The lower section contains the sarcophagus with recumbent effigy, above which is the three-dimensional Pope bestowing the apostolic blessing, surrounded by reliefs of the four cardinal virtues. On top, a heavy cornice is surmounted by a lunette with the three theological virtues in relief (Charity in a mandorla usurps the traditional place of the Madonna and Child). from Web Gallery

Pope Innocent VIII (1432 – 25 July 1492), born Giovanni Battista Cybo (or Cibo), was Pope from 29 August 1484 to his death in 1492.
A mysterious inscription on his tomb in Saint Peter in Rome states: “Nel tempo del suo Pontificato, la gloria della scoperta di un nuovo mondo” (transl. "During his Pontificate, the glory of the discovery of a new world."). The fact is that he died seven days before the departure of Christopher Columbus for his supposedly first voyage over the Atlantic, raising speculations that Columbus actually traveled before the known date and re-discovered the Americas for the Europeans before the supposed date of October 12, 1492. The Italian historian Ruggero Marino, in his book "Cristoforo Colombo e il Papa tradito" (transl. "Christopher Columbus and the betrayed Pope") is convinced of this after having studied Columbus's papers for over 25 year
Did Columbus Discover America Earlier In Secret Mission For Pope?
By Richard Owen
Who sent Columbus? (click to read the newspaper)
America was not discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, on behalf of Spain,because he had sailed to the New World seven years earlier on a secret mission for the Pope, according to scholars.
Ruggero Marino, a writer and historian, said the 1492 journey was a return visit. He said this emerged from study of an early 16th-century Ottoman map, which showed that Columbus found America in 1485, during the reign of Pope Innocent VIII.
Signor Marino said there was corroborative proof in an inscription on the tomb of Innocent VIII, in St Peter's Basilica, which reads "Novi orbis suo aevo inventi gloria", meaning that during his pontificate "the glory of the discovery of the New World" took place. Innocent VIII died at the end of July 1492, before Columbus set sail and three months before he landed at the Bahamas. "The inscription either anticipates Columbus's success or else refers to an earlier journey," Signor Marino said.
The accepted version is that Columbus was dispatched in 1492 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, but Signor Marino said that the venture was originally financed by Innocent VIII and the Medici banking dynasty to which the Pope was related.
The aim was to use the gold of the New World to fund Crusades and to gain souls for Christianity. Innocent VIII's successor, Alexander VI, the Spanish-born Borgia Pope, "signed over the rights to the New World" to the Spanish throne. The origins of the New World venture had been covered up partly because Columbus's writings were manipulated by his Spanish masters.
Signor Marino told Oggi magazine that he had drawn on the work of the late Professor Bausani, head of Islamic Studies at the University of Venice, who had studied the Piri Reis map, named for Piri Ibn Hadji Mehmed, admiral of the Ottoman fleet. The map, dated 1513, was lost for centuries; it is now in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul.
Professor Bausani said that the "key to the mystery of Columbus and the Indies" lies in an annotation of the map, which refers to the American land mass: "These shores were discovered in the year 890 of the Arab era by the infidel from Genoa." Genoa was Columbus's birthplace and 890 corresponds to 1485-86.

Copyright 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd.