The Vatican Splendors exhibition celebrates the 500th anniversary of Saint Peter’s Basilica, the founding of the Vatican Museums as well as Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine chapel ceiling, and the establishment of the Swiss Guard. Currently, the Vatican Splendors exhibition is on tour in North America. This exhibit, where visitors can experience 2,000 years of Vatican art and history, will be in St. Petersburg, Florida at the Florida International Museum until May 11, 2008. Vatican Splendors will then be on display in Cleveland, Ohio at the Western Reserve Historical Society beginning on May 31, 2008 and St. Paul, Minnesota at the Minnesota History Center starting September 27, 2008.
My husband and I went to this exhibition in St. Petersburg and it was absolutely phenomenal! We spent a good portion of the day enjoying the collection of art, various historical documents and other important items in our church’s rich history. Several pieces of art are from the Vatican’s private collection; this being the first time they’ve been seen in public. The exhibition is comprised of four galleries: Foundations of the Church, 500 Years of the Vatican, The Work of the Pope and Stories of the Popes.
Here is just a sampling of what we saw at this awesome exhibit:
- The Mandylion of Edessa – 3rd to 5th century, Tempera on linen attached to wood, gold, silver and various stones. Jesus pressed the cloth to his face, leaving a visible imprint in this earliest representation of his face in Rome.
- Cast of the Hand of Pope John Paul II – October 2002, Bronze. Cecco Bonanotte.
- Pastoral Staff of Pope John Paul II – 20th century, aluminum and silver. Lello Scorzelli and Manlio del Vecchio.
- Papal Tiara of Pius VII – 1804, Cask: wood, velvet, silk; crown is made of gold precious stones, and the top of emerald and gold. Henry Auguste and Nitot.
- Statue of Saint Peter – Late 18th or early 19th century. Gilded wood. Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
- Compass of Michelangelo Buonarroti – 16th century. Iron.
For pictures of these and several more items from the exhibition, visit the Vatican Splendors Object Photo Gallery.
This is truly just a sample of what is on display, as there are 200 works of art and objects of history from the Vatican and Vatican Museums. Vatican Splendors is one of the largest Vatican collections to tour the USA. I would highly recommend going if you are near (or plan to be near) St. Petersburg, Cleveland or St. Paul. It really is a once in a lifetime experience.
For more information, including a short virtual tour, please visit the Vatican Splendors website.
Peace in Christ,