Bill Gates and the Order of the Holy Sepulcher: Two Peculiar Partners

May 24, 2022
Palazzo della Rovere

The Knights of the Holy Sepulcher have decided to entrust the management of their parent company to Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, who has planned to transform Palazzo della Rovere into a luxury hotel complex. The decision was far from unanimous.

“Lord, you entrusted me with two denarii, I enriched you with a five-star hotel in return...” The parable of the good servant of the gospel has just found the most unexpected news in the Borgo, a celebrated Roman quarter located a stone's throw from the Vatican Basilica.

It is there, at 33 Via della Conciliazione, that the Palazzo della Rovere is located, a building dating from the Renaissance, enriched by a majestic courtyard, flanked by a tower, and decorated with frescoes by Pinturicchio on the ground floor. And soon to be expanded with a spa, an ultra-modern gym, and a battery of star chefs.

The palace is owned by the Knights and Dames of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, an entity with thirty thousand members worldwide, whose mission today is to support the works of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

But times are tough, and the knights are no longer very wealthy. In the early 2000s, to make ends meet and help maintain the palace, part of the building was rented to a discreet, family-run hotel company – Il Columbus – until 2018.

Starting in the fall of 2020, under the impetus of the Holy See – remember that it is a cardinal, Msgr. Fernando Filoni who is the Grand Master of the Order – a request for proposals was launched in order to entrust the management good to an internationally renowned brand, capable of guaranteeing solid and regular income.

In a few weeks, nearly 60 investors have come forward to the knights of the Order. After a first review, then a second, there were only three names left in the running: Hilton, Marriot, and Fort Partners-Four Seasons, the latter being 75% owned by Bill Gates the founder of Microsoft Inc. 

Fort Partners finally won the bet, putting 35 million euros on the table, a tidy sum to which will be added the costs of renovation and restoration of the works of art, which was enough to convince more than one knight.

What will Palazzo della Rovere version 2.0 look like? It will include 64 rooms – at €490 per night for the simplest ones – 11 so-called executive suites – meaning business class – and two super luxury suites: but no price has been announced yet. In addition, there are two Michelin-starred restaurants, a spa, a gym, as well as an underground car park already under construction.

“The last thing the Vatican needs are new financial scandals,” said Giovanni Gomiero, head of the development sector for Italy and the Mediterranean region, who is rather critical of the project.

Nonone of this is to mention the personality of the foounder of Microsoft, who, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, does not spare any efforts to promote the culture of death throughout the world.