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 by Federico Barocci (circa 1590) The humility of God who became a Child.

Christmas is the ideal time to contemplate the Lord’s birth through one of the most beautiful works of art: the Nativity by Barocci. Frederico Barocci (1530-1612), is one of the most important mannerist painters of the 16th century who applied an extraordinary use of colour, characterised by warm colour shades, to his artistic work. The […]

The Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception

Francesco Podesti (1800 –1895), the skilled painter and portrait artist, was entrusted with the task of realising a work to commemorate the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the Vatican. The work was to be frescoed onto the walls of the Borgia Tower, in a room that is adjacent to Raphael’s Fire […]

The Presentation of Mary in the Temple

The 21st November is the World Day of Cloistered Life —Pro Orantibus Day (“For Those Who Pray”). It was instituted by Pope Pius XII in 1953 on the day in which we celebrate the liturgical feast of the presentation of Mary in the Temple. To honour this special day, we visit the Chapel of the […]

Church of the Most Holy Name of Mary at the Trajan Forum

In this month of September, we celebrate the memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary and, in the city of Rome, there is a magnificent Church dedicated to her name in the Trajan Forum. In 1683, the news of the siege of Vienna arrived in Rome and this brought with it the expectation that […]

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 […]

The Handing of the Keys

Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci, better known as Pietro Perugino (1450-1523), was an Umbrian painter of the High Renaissance who realised the exceptional fresco entitled ‘The Handing of the Keys to St Peter’ between 1481/2 in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City, Rome. The fresco forms part of a series of mural decorations that gave the Sistine […]

The Dormition of the Virgin Mary

The splendid mosaics in the apse of St Mary Major’s Basilica in Rome narrate the life story of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Of particular interest is the “Dormitio Mariæ”, the Dormition of Mary, which is found just below the central mosaic. The mosaic depicts the Marian mystery that the Eastern Church refer to as the […]

The Angelus, the prayer that inspired a masterpiece

The Angelus was painted by JF Millet (1814-1875) in 1859. His early life was spent in rural France working on the family farm whilst being instructed in the classics by the priests from the local parish. Millet inherited his father’s artistic talent and as a boy copied prints from the Bible and so his artistic […]