The Navicella – An Icon of Faith

The Navicella, by Giotto di Bondone (1266/7 –1337),which illustrates the scene from St Mathew’s Gospel when St Peter walks on water towards Christ, (Mt 14:22-33) is one of St Peter’s Basilica’s most important works. This icon of faith has greeted visitors leaving the Basilica since the early 14th Century onwards. The mosaic that remains today, […]

The Mother of God and the three Kings in the Dogmatic Sarcophagus

In 1823, Saint Paul Outside the Walls basilica, Rome, was destroyed in a terrible fire.  During the reconstruction works in 1838, a splendid sarcophagus from the 4th century AD was found near St Paul’s tomb.  The beauty and the profound nature of the Biblical scenes that were sculpted on the face of the tomb, has […]

The Nativity

  The first “living” crib was created on Christmas Eve 1223 in Greccio, Italy.  Here, St Francis of Assisi, wanted to relive the happy Bethlehem night in which the Almighty God was born, wrapped “in swaddling clothes and placed … in a manger” by His mother. (Lk 2:7) To create this profound experience, he made […]

The Battle of Vienna – 11 September 1683

The Battle of Vienna is a huge, imposing oil canvass that stands 9m by 4.5m in the John Sobieski room of the Vatican Museums. The masterpiece recounts the ending of the Turkish siege of Vienna by the Catholic army led by the Polish King, John Sobieski, on the 11th September 1683. The polish painter, Jan […]

A light that shines in the darkness

In 1610, the Dutch painter Gerard van Honthorst (1592-1656) went to Rome were he was fascinated by the works of Caravaggio that were characterised by his use of darkness and light. The young artist went on to develop his own distinctive style which was also characterised by the use of light. He specialised in setting […]

The Touch of God reflected in Art

This month’s newsletter is dedicated to St Teresa of Jesus, better known as St Teresa of Avila, because her 500th anniversary celebrations open this month and will last throughout 2015. St Teresa is famous as she was the reformer of the Carmelite order. Although she entered the convent at 20 years of age, her real […]

The Disputation of the Blessed Sacrament

In this month of June, in which we are preparing to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, we will delve into the explanation of the Disputation of the Blessed Sacrament (1509) by Raphael that was realized in one of what is commonly recognised as Pope Julius II apartments in the Vatican: the room of the […]

The Madonna with Child: Our Lady of the Rosary!

Giovan Battista Salvi, otherwise known as Sassoferrato (1609-1685), is an artist of the 17th Century whose career was distinguished by the painting of great portraits and devotional images particularly of the Virgin Mary. Indeed, he is often referred to affectionately as the “painter of the Madonna’s”. His natural style, that depicted his subjects with a […]

St Joseph’s Fountain: the 100th Fountain in the Vatican City

St Joseph’s fountain, realised in 2010 by architects Giuseppe Facchini and Barbara Bellano in collaboration with artist Franco Murer, brings the number of fountains in the Vatican city to 100. The fountain was commissioned because the Vatican Gardens, so rich in artistic patrimony from every epoch, was not blessed with a monument in honour of […]

The Sacrifice of Isaac by Caravaggio

In 1603, Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, the future Pope Urban VIII, commissioned Michael Angelo Merisi, otherwise known as Caravaggio, to produce the masterpiece called “The Sacrifice of Isaac” which is now displayed in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.. As a young artist, Caravaggio learned how to paint in the workshop of Simone Peterzano by studying life forms, […]