The Vatican Museum

Dispatch #12 from Sr. Bobbi

What an awesome place the Vatican museum is. Actually, it is a maze of museums all leading to the ultimate work of art in the Sistine chapel. I browsed for 4 hours!

I began by going to the Gallery of Paintings which remains my favorite. Room after room was hung portraits and scenes of people and events from scripture. Many were life size and I can honestly say all were life like. I loved it like it was a retreat around paintings.

I met another sister from the group and we buddied up the rest of the time. Besides discovering some paintings of Benedict, my favorite was a painting of the crucifixation at the end when disciples are removing Jesus from the cross and Mary has collapsed and is being attended to by two women. Mary Magdalene is at the foot of Jesus and the apostles and the Roman guards are looking on. The faces tell the story and express the emotions of the moment. It is a gripping painting. I stood there a long time, as it was easy to enter the scene since it was so expressive.  .

Another favorite and extraordinarily expressive in a most human way was the painting of the Holy Family at what seemed like a picnic (attached here).  Joseph’s look is so fatherly and tender as the gives cherries to Jesus who is setting them on his mothers lap. It is one of the best paintings of the family…not posed but like the artist was there sneaking a painting as the family relaxed. Truly magnificent.

I also walked through the early Christian museum to fine the Good Shepherd statue. Along the walk were ancient burial crypts with rock  carvings of scripture events, especially the New Testament life and miracles of Jesus. Unbelievable that we have these carvings!

I continued through the papal apartments which were full of paintings of historical and scriptural events in the life of the church and particular popes. These were huge paintings covering wall after wall. The Raphael rooms were in this area and absolutely stunning.

The two of us continued our way through the Gallery of Maps depicting ancient lands. We roamed through the Museum of Modern Art and entered into the Octagonal museum. Here were life size statues of kings and rulers. Amazing realism and facial expressions.

I had read the life of Michaelangelo as well as the Agony and the Ecstasy. How often we see parts of the Sistine chapel on cards etc. To stand beneath it was quite an experience, however. I have to say I was in total awe of the ceiling. I cannot comprehend the process of painting it. Likewise the frescoes along the walls of the prophets, Moses and Jesus.

I certainly can understand how someone could return endlessly and always find something new!

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