In nome del papa re (In the Name of the Pope King) (1977)





Director:     Luigi Magni.

Starring:    Nino Manfredi (Monsignor Colombo),  Danilo Mattei (Cesare Costa),  Carmen Scarpitta (Countess Flaminia),  Giovannella Grifeo (Teresa),  Carlo Bagno (Perpetuo),  Gabriella Giacobbe (Maria Tognetti),  Ettore Manni (Count Ottavio),  Salvo Randone (Black Pope),  Luigi Basagaluppi (Giuseppe Monti),  Rosalino Cellamare (Gaetano Tognetti),  Camillo Milli (Don Marino),  Renata Zamengo (Lucia Monti).

in 1867 the papal court fights to prevent Garibaldi's forces from taking power and bringing Rome into the Italian kingdom


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.


Written  in Rome on October 22, 1867.  Monsignor Colombo da Priverno, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Papal Consulta.  "Given the wretched state of Rome in these times of anguish and fear.  The city doors bricked in, the streets deserted as if there were a cholera epidemic, cannons in the squares, barricades, Soaves patrolling the streets day and night, bands of Garibaldians roaming the countryside and revolution looming, both inside the walls and out, to the reckless cry of 'Rome or Death!'  And further given your silence on the subject of the massacre carried out by the Soaves at the Ajani factory, where your crummy heroes butchered 16 Romans.

The scribe asks if Colombo is going after the Soaves too.  After all, he says, they fight against our enemies.  Colombo asks:  "Against Giuditta Tavani Arquati?"   She is one of the 16 victims of the massacre.  The soldiers butchered her and carved up her body with their bayonets. 

Colombo continues his letter dictation saying that ". . . he will not be available for the criminal proceedings that will ipso facto ensue as a result of said incidents and therefore request Your Holiness to relieve him henceforth of the office of judge and of all the duties connected thereto."

Serafino is amazed that Colombo is resigning.  Colombo goes on:  "This is the result of a long inner struggle."  Serafino wonders if he is resigning because the Italians are coming into Rome?  Colombo replies that things are the other way around:  "The Italians are coming precisely because it's over."

A woman named Teresa writes a political slogan on the wall and a Soave soldier takes her captive.  Other Soave soldiers arrive and the soldier who captured Teresa tells them to take her to the barracks.  The men tell the fellow that the barracks have just been blown up.  So they run down a street, leaving Teresa behind.  Two men rush over to see if Teresa is alright.  She asks where's Gaetano and they say he is waiting for them back at the house. 

The three go home.  They all agree to say nothing to mom about what happened.  Countess Flaminia comes to the door.  She asks where Gaetano is and they say he will be here soon. She asks:  "After the massacre didn't the Revolutionary Committee pick three men to carry out a reprisal?"  She goes on to say that because of the many spies in Rome the police already know the names of the three chosen to carry out the reprisal, namely, the bombing of the Soave barracks.  She says the men are Giuseppe Monti, Gaetano Tognetti (mother's son ) and Cesarino Costa, the son of the Countess.  The countess says the fellows have to get away now, but Cesarino tells her she's not cut out for conspiracies and so says good night to her.  The Countess leaves in her carriage. 

Count Ottavio tells a Monsignor that now he sees how intimate his wife is with Cesarino Costa.  He says it's clear that he is a cuckold, but now he will be able to put Cesarino in prison and his own reputation will be spared.  They watch as Gaetano arrives home.  He tells the others that so far there are 23 dead Soaves.  He asks:  "What have we done?"  Cesarino says:  "We've revenged Giuditta Tavanni Arquati."  All of a sudden there is loud knocking at the door.  The three conspirators now hear:  "In the name of the Pope King!  Open up!"   

Colombo and Serafino sing "Ave Maria".   After the song is finished, Serafino asks Colombo what are his plans?  Colombo says he is just going to be a common priest.  Serafino asks what is going to happen to him if Colombo becomes a common priest without the perks of higher office?  Colombo tells him to take all the money in the cashbox, but Serafino says there is no money in the box.  Countess Flaminia now comes for a visit.  She begs the Monsignor to save her son who was just arrested this evening along with two of his friends.  Colombo asks if Cesarino is her lover?  She is shocked that the priest would ask her such a question.  The Countess tells him that Cesarino is her son. 

The Countess says her son is just 19, born in '49 with the revolution. Monsignor remembers it all:  "All that shooting . . . Garibaldi up on the Gianicolo."  Serafino adds:  "Lucliano Manara at Villa Spada."  "The Republic."  The countess says she was a volunteer nurse at the time and she and the Monsignor would sleep too close to each other to keep warm on the cold, cold nights.  That was 19 years ago, the same number of years accumulated by her son.  The Countess is telling him that her son is Colombo's son.  She says now he has two reasons to save Cesarino: because he is her son, and because he is also Colombo's son.  

Colombo says he can't do anything.  In fact, he has his letter of resignation right here.  The Countess tears the letter up.  Colombo says he can just write the letter again.  In disgust, the Countess leaves. 

Colombo tells Serafino to run after the Countess and tell her that the Monsignor will meet her down at the jail.  He has decided not to resign. 

They are interrogating Giuseppe Monti when Colombo arrives.  The priest interrogator says they will give Giuseppe amnesty if he confesses he did it and names those who carried out the bombing with him.  Giuseppe says that would make him a snitch, so he now says he didn't do the crime.  Gaetano is brought in for interrogation.  They ask him a few questions and then Colombo says to call the third man in because this Gaetano is not going to do any snitching on his comrades.  And Colombo wants to speak to Cesarino alone on behalf of an interested party whose name he cannot reveal.  The priest says:  "Countess Flaminia."   He adds that everyone knows that Cesarino is the Countess's lover. 

The interrogator priest wants to be a bishop.  So he will do what the Monsignor wants, as long as the Monsignor helps him become bishop.  Colombo tells the man that he will mention his name to His Holiness.  The deal is struck.  Colombo is let into Cesarino's cell.  He asks Cesarino about his background and about his father.  Cesarino tells him that his father is unknown.  He has never asked his mother who is his father.  Cesarino's cynical remarks start making Colombo angry and he tells him they have nothing on him, so he is free to go.  He opens the cell door wide.  Cesarino asks?  "What trap is there outside?"  Colombo tells him his mother is waiting for him outside in a carriage.  But Cesarino refuses to leave saying he can't leave his comrades in jail by themselves.  Colombo is impressed.  He closes the door and leaves.  The priest interrogator sends his men to go in and get Cesarino, but again the young man refuses to leave.  Colombo tells the jailer, if he kicked the boy into prison, then he certainly can kick him out!  He leaves.   

The Monsignor tells the Countess that her son was very difficult.  There was one good-mannered boy among the three, but, of course, that was not Cesarino.  Two men carry Cesarino to the waiting carriage and put him inside.  Mrs. Tognetti, watching the jail with another woman, comments:  "They didn't even let me see my son."  The other woman says:  "Sure, Cesarino's special, my husband's nobody." 

As soon as she gets home, the Countess tells her husband in his bedroom that the boy who is supposedly her lover, is free from jail and now should be over the border.  Then she walks out. 

Serafino comes in to the Monsignor's bedroom and finds him asleep at his desk.  The Monsignor says he came in late last night, sat down at his desk, rewrote his resignation letter to the Pope and then fell asleep. Colombo seems to have caught a nasty cough from being out in the cold last night. And today he has a guilty conscience for only helping one of the three men involved in the barracks bombing. 

There is a knock at the door.  The Monsignor leaves the room telling Serafino to tell whoever it is that the Monsignor isn't in.  Serafino opens the door and starts saying the Monsignor is not available, but the lead man pulls a pistol on him.  Serafino calls for the Monsignor.  It's the men that took Serafino to the border.  The lead man explains to the Monsignor that Cesarino awakened just before the border and made such a fuss that they had to bring him back.  They are going to leave the boy with the Monsignor because there is no other "safe place". 

The Monsignor removes the bandana over Cesarino's mouth after getting his nod that he would not start hollering if the gag is removed.  Colombo starts speaking and the boy suddenly makes a break for the window, shouting for help.  The lead man knocks Cesarino unconscious.  Now they take the boy to the cellar. 

The Monsignor smokes and tries to read a book in bed.  He awakens Serafino, who is in the bed next to him for this one night.  Colombo says he can't fall asleep.  He urinates into a chamber pot, which Serafino says is being too familiar.  While the Monsignor continues to talk, he hears Serafino loudly snoring.  Then there is a big explosion.  He exclaims:  "Again!" 

Colombo throws a scarf around his neck and goes downstairs to see Cesarino.  The young fellow wants to know why has the Monsignor comes to see him?  What does he want?  Colombo says he just wants them to talk together, get to know each other and become friends.  Cesarino scoffs at the word "friend" and the Monsignor admits maybe that word is going a bit too far. The Monsignor's son has a question of his own to ask the Monsignor?  Under what authority can the priests and the Pope judge the accused barracks bombers?   The Vatican is now an empty power and should have no say in matters such as these.  The Monsignor says this is all done in the name of the Pope King. 

Cesarino says this is what will happen in court:  "The accused will become accusers and play history's trump on you."  The Monsignor says that what Cesarino doesn't recognize is that the deck of card belongs to the Vatican and if they don't get all the aces, then they cheat. 

When the Monsignor comes up from the cellar, he sees the Countess standing there.  She has come, of course, to check on Cesarino.  Colombo tells the Countess that children should be brought up by their own mothers, not farmed out to others.  The Countess says Maria Tognetti never got a penny from her.  She would not accept it.  The Countess says this way her boy didn't grow up to be a poor, little, spoiled, rich boy.  The Monsignor says instead her son "went to the people's school to learn the revolution."  She tells him that she is taking her son to Paris in these terrible times.  He'll be safe there.  They continue arguing over their son until the Countess says:  "A two-day father who knows it all!"  She also asks should she let her son be sent to the guillotine just to make his father happy?  The Countess says she wants to see her son, but the Monsignor says it would be better if she didn't.  The countess says that this isn't the end of it.  She leaves.

Serafino heard everything because he had his ear pressed to the closed door.  He wonders why in 20 years of service, the Monsignor didn't tell him about his son.  Colombo says he himself just learned about this a few days ago.  Serafino wants to know, if the Monsignor is the boy's father, then what is Serafino to the boy?  The priest explains to Serafino that he can't have the boy call him uncle, because the boy doesn't even know that he, the Monsignor, is his father. 

One day in church, while the Monsignor puts wafers in the mouths of his parishioners, Mrs. Tognetti is there to say to him:  "You saved your son but not mine."  And she refuses to receive the wafer from him, saying "No. . .  Not you.". 

Teresa starts following the Monsignor.  He turns a corner and waits for Teresa.  She gets a shock when she almost bumps into him, but stands her ground and tells the Monsignor that she wants to see Cesarino.  She wants to know if he is hiding or is a prisoner?  She says that she loves Cesarino.  The Monsignor relents and tells her to come to his house.  She asks him if he is going to try to seduce her?  She says she has been fighting off priests since she was ten years old.  Not satisfied with his response, she lags behind. 

At home the Monsignor decides to tear up his resignation letter that Serafino has been to busy to mail.  There's a knock on the door.  It's Teresa.  She goes down to the cellar with the priest and Serafino.  Cesarino is very happy to see her.  Very soon the young people are making love (brief nudity). 

The trial begins in the case of the bombing of the Serristori Barracks on October 22, 1867.  The prosecutor says that Garibaldi at the head of a band of 5,000 men and five cannons is now marching on Mentana.  This is an attempt to enter the Realm. He is seeking the death penalty by decapitation for the two brick layers who bombed the barracks. 

Before the Monsignors make their judgment, a cardinal (?) says that he doesn't want to influence their decision, but they should know that many people wrongfully believe that men like these become martyrs after their death sentences are carried out.  He goes on to say that a lenient sentence, although in the best spirit of Christian charity, would not show the people that their idea of martyrs and martyrdom are misguided.  Now he asks the judges to give their verdicts.  There are four yes answers before the question is presented to Colombo.  He protests that this is not a proper trial without the accused present and without even a defense.  After all, the accused haven't even confessed to their crimes.  The cardinal rejects all of Colombo's objections, so Colombo starts to leave the courtroom.  The cardinal doesn't want him to leave, so Colombo stays, but he goes on with his defense.  The cardinal gets mad and says:  "You're questioning the legitimacy of this Court!"  Colombo says that the accused are soldiers, soldiers of a civilian army.  And a civilian army is a people's army, so the church should be careful in judging the accused. 

Colombo goes back to his seat.  He says he will vote neither yes nor no.  So the cardinal says they will just mark him as absent.  All of the verdicts are yes for guilty.  The cardinals says that 11 yes answers out of 11 Monsignors present.  The two accused are now convicted and the sentence is death. 

The Countess returns to the house of Colombo, but this time with six large men.  She is prepared to take Cesarino by force if necessary.  They all go down into the cellar. The Countess calls out for her son and Teresa's head  appears in the slit in the door.  The Countess is not pleased to see her.  Teresa says she is sharing the same sentence with Cesarino.  The lead man is about to bust the door down when Colombo makes an appearance.  He asks the boy if he wants to go with his mother?  Cesarino says he wants to talk to the Monsignor first.    Colombo opens the lock with his key and the Monsignor goes upstairs with Cesarino.   Mom starts to object until Colombo tells her quietly that she should have the carriage ready to go.  Mother is surprised, but pleased.

Cesarino's first question is what happened at the trial?  Colombo says he's sorry but there were 11 "yeas" out of 11 members present.  Cesarino says that this means that the Monsignor voted yes.  Colombo ignores the remark.  Cesarino now balks at leaving Italy.  Dad gets angry again at the boy's stubbornness.   So, Colombo tells the young fellow to go ahead and fight on Garibaldi's side.  He gives the 19 year old a pistol.  Cesarino grabs the pistol, points it at the head of the Monsignor and actually pulls the trigger twice.  The gun isn't loaded. 

The Monsignor loads the gun and gives it to Cesarino saying:  "Here!  Now I don't give a damn whether you shoot me or not because you've already shot me."  Cesarino just stands there.  There's a knock at the door of the room.  Someone shouts:  "Open in the name of the Pope King!"  Cesarino is going to turn himself in, but, on orders from the Monsignor, the big lead man grabs Cesarino and starts to take him back down to the basement.  Teresa grabs the pistol and follows the men.   

Now the Captain is let in.  He is arresting the Monsignor for:  "Your defense in Court of the criminals Monti and Tognetti."  Cesarino hears the words of the Captain and realizes that he misjudged the Monsignor.  The Monsignor asks permission to get his coat and the Captain agrees.  Colombo has a brief talk with Cesarino about the trial.  The boy says they will kill the Monsignor for what he did and the Monsignor just asks didn't Cesarino just want to kill him too?  Cesarino says he's sorry for that and offers his hand to the Monsignor.  The two fellows shake hands and Teresa kisses the Monsignor's left hand.  He laughs and hugs his "children". 

Now they take the Monsignor away.  Teresa rushes to hug Cesarino, who tells her he is going to Mentana.    He asks her to wait for him.  She says they both will meet in Rome without any priests or Pope.  She gives him the pistol.  Mom tries to stop her son from going, but Cesarino asks her to please understand he has to go.  He leaves.  Mom chases after him.  Cesarino goes out the door and is shot by a man in hiding.  Mom sees that her husband is the one who shot her son.  He thinks he has killed her lover.  Teresa takes the pistol and leaves. 

Colombo is brought in to see a Jesuit officer under the Pope  -- the Black Pope as Colombo calls him for the Jesuit's black robes.  In the room are the mother and wife of the two condemned men.  The Jesuit shows Colombo a letter of repentance that Monti and Tognetti signed.  He goes on to say that the two accused were moved by the plight of the mother and the wife and of the little children.  He adds that this is the way to help people -- not the way that Colombo did.  Even the Pope himself was distressed at his methods used in the courtroom.   He says Colombo's way led to the guillotine, whereas his way leads to a pardon.   The high officer tells the women that the Pope will surely sign the pardons tonight. 

After the women and children leave the room, the officer says that the Vatican let Monsignor Colombo "save" Cesarino.  In fact, the Vatican even knows that Cesare Costa is the Monsignor's son.  Another surprise awaits the Monsignor.  He looks through the eyes of a skull over the mantle and sees the Pope praying.  He is keeping vigil with them.  The high officer tells Colombo that it will be his job to see that the Pope makes the right decision and this, according to the officer, is not to sign the pardon..  This way the Vatican can be sure of Colombo's future obedience. 

Colombo doesn't know that his son has been shot dead.  He tells the high officer that he is just going to be a priest.  The high officer asks:  "Don't you see you're condemning your son like that?"  Colombo responds:  "Too bad . . . I knew that was the score, but you'll have to catch him."   Colombo leaves. 

At night the Soaves parade their prisoners of war down the empty street.  Colombo asks where the men came from and the answer is Mentana.  A Souave says that at least 1,000 Garibaldians were killed with the help of the French.  Garibaldi has been defeated. 

Colombo arrives at home.  There the big lead man brings out a badly wounded Cesarino, who in his delirium thinks that they are all Soaves.  He talks about having found a father.  He continues by saying that they will kill all the priests, except for the one that tried to help Monti and Tognetti.  Cesarino dies. 

Colombo dictates a letter to the Pope saying the he should have pardoned the two bombers.  The two condemned men were guillotined.   The high officer comes to Colombo's church and takes communion.  Colombo says they have come for him.  When Colombo with the wafer reaches the high officer, he says:  "No . . . not you." 



Good movie.  You should go over to the Historical Background and read some of it, but this would partly be a spoiler experience.  The movie is an historical one, but it is also a light comedy.  I found myself smiling at the clever dialogue which is often funny.  Nino Manfredi  as Monsignor Colombo was especially good.  Hey, who knew the Vatican fought Garibaldi to keep Rome for themselves?  One can learn things from historical films. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


Historical Background:


1867 (October 23) the battle at Villa Glori causes everyone to expect an attack Rome accompanied by a popular uprising.

1867 (October 25) around forty 'patriots' (of whom twenty-five were Romans) meet within Giulio Ajani's wool factory. They conspire against the government of Pope Pius IX. They were expecting Giuseppe Garibaldi to attack Rome soon.

Francesco Arquati, his wife, one of their three sons, Antonio, and their comrades gather to prepare cartridges and restock the rifles of their arsenal, in order to be ready to support the coming Garibaldi attack.

A platoon of papal soaves attacks the wool-mill building. The papal soldier take the building. Nine people are killed. One of the dead is Giudita Arquati, pregnant with her fourth child, her husband and their young son.

1867  --  following the war against Austria, Garibaldi led a political party that agitated for the capture of Rome.  The Papal army, supported by a French auxiliary force, defeats Garibaldi's second attempt to take Rome. 

1867 (November 3)  --  at the Battle of Mentana, Garibaldi was wounded in the leg and had to withdraw.

1870  --  after France recalled its French garrison from Rome, the Italian Army captures the Papal States without Garibaldi's assistance.




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