Vatican’s Sistine Chapel

Just like the walls and ceiling of your home need to be repainted from time to time, imagine having to repaint the Sistine Chapel. Well, it happens. Most recently between 1980 and 1999. The soot from the candles had reduced the color so much that the fresco colors were looking monochrome. The correct term is restoration not repainting. The process removes the surface dirt without damaging the original pigments, textures, brush strokes and bristles of the original.

Our tour was not allowed to take pictures inside the chapel, and we were hustled through in a mere twenty minutes. (measured by the time stamps on the last picture before entering and the first picture after leaving.) Fortunately the web has many excellent pictures and virtual tours of the interior.

I can deliver a few pictures from outside. Between the chapel and the basilica is a small courtyard with a fountain on the extreme right.

A small courtyard off of St. Peter’s Square

On the left is the Sistine Chapel, through the arch is Saint Peter’s Square and on the right is Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Saint Gregorius the Illuminator of Armenia created the first official Christian nation in 301.

An 18 foot statue of Saint Greorius Armemiae  the Illuminator  sits in a niche in the side wall of the basilica. In the year 301, S. Gregorius converted the Armenian nation from Paganism to Christianity and they are recognized as the first Christian Nation. The sculpture was commissioned 1700 years later in 2001. 


a less seen fountain

Looking up at the side wall and roof of the Sistine Chapel for a chimney.

The Sistine Chapel is used for more than just displaying famous artwork. It is used by the popes and cardinals for meetings such as the Papal Conclave which gathers the cardinals to elect a new pope. At the end of each vote the ballots are burned after they have been counted. Sometimes several rounds are required before a vote yields consensus  on who the next pope will be. To signal when a new pope has been elected, the smoke emitted from the chimney is a different color than when the non successful ballots are burned.

White smoke for a new pope. Black smoke for failed attempts.

– Where do you want to go to day? –

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