Thanks to the extraordinary talents of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), the Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina) in Vatican City has become one of the most famous art galleries in the western world.
Michelangelo's famous Sistine ceiling depicts scenes from Genesis in dramatic and moving detail, while The Last Judgment on the end wall is striking and powerful. As if that were not enough, the side walls are covered with important Renaissance frescoes by other artists, depicting biblical scenes and contemporary popes.
But the Sistine Chapel is more than the sum of its artistic wonders: it is a symbolic statement of papal authority and the place in which papal elections in conclave are held to this day. Before the start of the conclave that elected Pope Francis, the Cardinals chanted the Latin hymn 'Veni Creator Spiritus' (Come Creator Spirit) in the Sistine Chapel.
We are truly blessed to have a presentation by Dr. Elizabeth Lev prior to our time in the Sistine Chapel. But let's be doubly blessed, take a moment to watch Dr. Lev's TED talk. (Just click on the video below)
Art historian Elizabeth Lev became captivated by Rome while completing her graduate studies. She writes and lectures on Renaissance art in the Eternal City, but is most at home in the Vatican Museums, founded in the 16th century to house the trove of art amassed by centuries of Popes. She has spent 15 years studying the vast collection, which contain not only Christian-themed works but art from virtually every other culture in the world. She consults with the Vatican Museums and wrote the film Vatican Treasures.
Today offer a prayer for Dr. Elizabeth Lev and all of our guides. Come, Holy Spirit, give them the wisdom and the words to be your vessels.
Looking forward to journeying with you!