The Vatican, the Vatican, and the Vatican

posted at 4:00 pm on May 8, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

We had the good fortune of visiting the Vatican three times on our trip to Rome.  The first came on our pre-paid tour of the Vatican Museum, which included a stop at the Sistine Chapel.  On the second, we made it to within 70 yards of the Vatican wall as we joined two million people who came to the Vatican to celebrate the beatification of John Paul II.  The third gave us a rare look at the Vatican, and an interview with the man in charge of raising funds for restoration projects at the museum.

I’ll start with the second visit.  The catalyst for going to Rome was the beatification itself, which I explained in an earlier column and won’t belabor again here.  We knew it would be difficult to get into St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, but we had no idea it would be as impossible as it was.  Unbeknownst to us, so many people had camped outside the gates (and inside before they closed it on Saturday night) that the issue of access was mooted by 1 am or so.  We arrived six hours later, thanks to a cab driver who erupted in disbelief when I first told him I wanted to go to St. Peter’s Square.  He got us as close as he possibly could, though, but it was far too late for us to even get within site of the square.

Instead, we hunkered down behind a big truck where a big-screen display and loudspeakers were set up to allow us to take part in the ceremony near the museum entrance.  We couldn’t see the screen, but at least we could sit — and we met a number of other lovely people that day who stayed in the same area.  This picture shows our friends Fern and Rosemary from London:

And yes, it was sunny and hot that day — and I ended up with one heck of a sunburn on my noggin after having left my cap and umbrella in a really nice and reasonably-priced trattoria, La Maremma, the night before. (If you go there, say hi to Sabrina, who held on to my cap and umbrella for later retrieval by our friends, Richard and Susan Vigilante.)

Thanks to Fr. Timothy Lyons, we eventually made contact with Fr. Mark Haydu, who runs the Vatican Museum’s Patron of the Arts program, and arranged for both a personal tour and a meeting.  Br. Michael Maciborski conducted the tour, which literally had us walking through just about every part of the Vatican, especially the antiquities area of the Vatican Museum.  We also got to see the restoration labs, about which I interviewed Fr. Haydu, as well as the importance of the Patrons program to funding those efforts:


Interview with Fr. Mark Haydu at the Vatican by cptned

We spent quite a bit more time with Fr. Haydu (and his very kind and hospitable staff) and talked at length about his journey to the priesthood and the Vatican. He impressed me with his argument about the Church’s role as steward of the art that has been given to them, and the importance of protecting and preserving the works not just for their own sake but as a liturgical effort as well. These objects represent some of the highest, most noble efforts of the human spirit, and preserving that has obvious import for the Catholic Church for spiritual reasons as well as artistic.

The Patrons program is so impressive that I will be looking into joining it here myself, and given the relatively low cost and the tremendous work it funds, it will be a privilege if we can swing it. The program is structured into regional chapters; for instance, I would join the Minnesota & North Dakota chapter of the Patrons program, which has its own website and is apparently one of the better-organized chapters. The Ohio chapter also has an online presence, while the rest work through e-mail.

For a good look at the stakes involved, here are the slideshows of the public and private tours we took of the Vatican, respectively. I took more pictures on the public tour, but the private tour shots may be of more interest. Pay special attention to the tapestries in the first series, which were amazingly rich and detailed. Again, no flash photography was allowed for obvious reasons, so the camerawork was tricky.

And in the private tour series, the highlights will be the interior “frescoes” of the Egyptian sarcophagi, the mummy on display, the black granite statues that came from Hadrian’s villa (I believe), and the fascinating look at restoration efforts in the labs:

Thank you for allowing me to share my fondest memories of Rome. I know it’s a change of pace for Hot Air, and I appreciate your indulgence.

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thanks for the pics, Ed.

xplodeit on May 8, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Went to the Vatican one Easter with a relative who is a nun. We sat in the third row for the Easter Sunday mass without having a ticket between us, they just waved us through as people tend to do in Rome if you have a nun to hand. I’m not even a Roman Catholic, felt like such a fraud.

SamTrev on May 8, 2011 at 4:08 PM

It’s too bad that when the jihadists take over Italy the entire vatican will be burned to the ground

unseen on May 8, 2011 at 4:14 PM

I know it’s a change of pace for Hot Air, and I appreciate your indulgence.

I love these posts. Keep ‘em coming!

Blake on May 8, 2011 at 4:16 PM

It’s too bad that when the jihadists take over Italy the entire vatican will be burned to the ground

Sounds like someone took ‘Angels and Demons’ a little too seriously.

SamTrev on May 8, 2011 at 4:17 PM

I’m not even a Roman Catholic, felt like such a fraud.

SamTrev on May 8, 2011 at 4:08 PM

Naw. We Catholics are a welcoming bunch, contrary to popular belief. :-)

gryphon202 on May 8, 2011 at 4:19 PM

It’s too bad that when the jihadists take over Italy the entire vatican will be burned to the ground
unseen on May 8, 2011 at 4:14 PM

It would probably be converted to a mosque, like the Hagia-Sophia in Istanbul, if that’s any consolation.

We spent a few days in Rome in February. It’s a great place to wander, as well as to visit the Vatican Museum and other sights, especially when the weather is decent and the summer crowds haven’t descended.

Drained Brain on May 8, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Sounds like someone took ‘Angels and Demons’ a little too seriously.

SamTrev on May 8, 2011 at 4:17 PM

never saw the movie. I have read history though and for the last 1400 years whenever the islamists take over a country one of the first things they do is destory the religious and cultural centers of that country. Like the Budda’s in Afganistan.

unseen on May 8, 2011 at 4:22 PM

It would probably be converted to a mosque, like the Hagia-Sophia in Istanbul, if that’s any consolation.

that’s a possibility

unseen on May 8, 2011 at 4:23 PM

never saw the movie. I have read history though and for the last 1400 years whenever the islamists take over a country one of the first things they do is destory the religious and cultural centers of that country. Like the Budda’s in Afganistan.

unseen on May 8, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Christians on the other hand would NEVER do that.. lol!!!!

lexhamfox on May 8, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Loved these posts, thank you for sharing. And, believe me, the change of pace after the last week of OBL BS is very very welcome!

Glad you guys had such a wonderful time. Great interview with Fr Haydu, really interesting. Welcome home.

Dino64 on May 8, 2011 at 4:33 PM

Christians on the other hand would NEVER do that.. lol!!!!

lexhamfox on May 8, 2011 at 4:26 PM

last i looked Mosques are still standing in Sapin, france, Iraq, Afganistain,India, England, USA etc.

Go find a Church in Saudi Arabia? In fact try to find a cross instead of church.

Your attempt to compare the two religions is laughable.

unseen on May 8, 2011 at 4:37 PM

Thank you for allowing me to share my fondest memories of Rome. I know it’s a change of pace for Hot Air, and I appreciate your indulgence.

Travelogues are great. I have both of yours bookmarked for perusing at leisure next week. Thanks, Ed.

DaydreamBeliever on May 8, 2011 at 4:44 PM

unseen on May 8, 2011 at 4:37 PM

Christians converted many sites to churches. The attacks on Egyptian, Greek, and Roman sites are well documented. Christians tried to erase all evidence of pre-Columbian civilization and we are left with the bits they didn’t know about.

I don’t think Christians are defined by that part of history any more than Muslims are defined by Wahabbist destruction.

lexhamfox on May 8, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Naw. We Catholics are a welcoming bunch, contrary to popular belief. :-)

gryphon202 on May 8, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Excellent, if the Swiss Guard come knocking, I’ll tell them you said it was OK.

SamTrev on May 8, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Looks like a great trip1 What did that dude say about Palin’s chances?
:)

winston on May 8, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Thanks for posting all the photos, Ed. You really had a rare look inside the Vatican that is pretty much off limits to most tourists. The interview with Fr. Haydu is very interesting. He’s a good spokesman for the patrons program, and like most clergy, excels at “fleecing the flock”. $500 a year is not too much to ask for those who want to be patrons of the aging treasures found in the Vatican. Although I’m not Catholic, it is important that the antiquities be saved and restored.

simkeith on May 8, 2011 at 4:57 PM

“We had the good fortune of visiting the Vatican three times on our trip to Rome.”

How nice. Next time you go you can tell them to give back all they stole from the Jews when the sacked the Second Temple. Some of it used to be in the museum, but when the Second Commonwealth of Israel was formed they quietly took the items off the shelves and they went onto hiding. The Vatican?

Thieves…

flameofjudah on May 8, 2011 at 4:57 PM

How can you stay Protestant after seeing all of that?! LOL! As a frequent traveller to Europe and have seen a bevy of cathedrals, the conservative in me can’t help but be bothered by how wasteful all those spending went into those churches. Gold-lined columns? Seriously? Still impressed nonetheless, and I’ve seen enough of secular libtardopia that it’s gonna be an ugly Snooki-filled cultural wasteland we’re going to inhabit in the future (if not already, today).

Apologetic California on May 8, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Christians converted many sites to churches.
lexhamfox on May 8, 2011 at 4:45 PM

If you go to Spain, one of the things you’d learn quickly that many of these former mosques were….drumroll…former churches. Christianity pre-dated Islam by several centuries and most of the Arab world were Christian before they were converted Islam.

Apologetic California on May 8, 2011 at 5:02 PM

How nice. Next time you go you can tell them to give back all they stole from the Jews when the sacked the Second Temple. Some of it used to be in the museum, but when the Second Commonwealth of Israel was formed they quietly took the items off the shelves and they went onto hiding. The Vatican?

Thieves…

flameofjudah on May 8, 2011 at 4:57 PM

The sacking of the Second Temple was done by the Romans before they became Christian. The Arch of Titus was not built by Christians.

Now, prove your statement that the Vatican has the materials you seek. You claim they were taken off exhibit — show a picture of one on exhibit. I’m sure photography was around at the time of the founding of the Second Commonwealth of Israel — in fact, I’m certain.

That said, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

unclesmrgol on May 8, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Protip: If you want to send postcards from Italy, send them from the Vatican post office on top of the main structure (you’ll pass it if you want to climb to the top of the dome). In my experience, they get to the USA 6 weeks sooner than ones mailed from the city surrounding the Vatican.

Dodd on May 8, 2011 at 5:11 PM

Christians converted many sites to churches.
lexhamfox on May 8, 2011 at 4:45 PM

If you go to Spain, one of the things you’d learn quickly that many of these former mosques were….drumroll…former churches. Christianity pre-dated Islam by several centuries and most of the Arab world were Christian before they were converted Islam.

Apologetic California on May 8, 2011 at 5:02 PM

I’ve been to Spain many times. Many of those sites you refer to had non-Christian places of worship long before the first Christian churches were built. What is your point?

lexhamfox on May 8, 2011 at 5:29 PM

It’s too bad that when the jihadists take over Italy the entire vatican will be burned to the ground

unseen on May 8, 2011 at 4:14 PM

A good way to restart the Crusades and I don’t mean as just a liberal argumentative point either.

El Coqui on May 8, 2011 at 5:33 PM

Thank YOU for sharing it – some of us will never get the opportunity to visit or tour like you did.

kim roy on May 8, 2011 at 5:33 PM

Ed, I hope someone at the Vatican said a prayer for your treadmill. I’m sure you had an extra meal or two during your trip. :-)

Welcome home.

joejm65 on May 8, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Nice dome. The church in the background looks good too.

andycanuck on May 8, 2011 at 5:37 PM

Nice dome. The church in the background looks good too.

andycanuck on May 8, 2011 at 5:37 PM

Heh. You should have seen it on Monday and Tuesday after being without my cap on Sunday for the Beatification. It glowed in the night and interfered with low flying aircraft.

Ed Morrissey on May 8, 2011 at 5:43 PM

TIP

Epic Racist Moment on Game Show !

http://conservativeblogscentral.blogspot.com/2011/05/epic-racist-moment-on-game-show.html

Nearly Nobody on May 8, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Christians on the other hand would NEVER do that.. lol!!!!

lexhamfox on May 8, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Don’t be so cynical. Didn’t you watch the video of Ed’s interview with Fr. Mark Haydu? The Vatican Museums have preserved art, which has its roots in liturgical traditions in most cultures, for the whole world to enjoy.

Unfortunately, the Muslims have desecrated many of the churches and holy sites that “offend” them. Have you seen what they have done to some of Europe’s churches? Their “handiwork” is appalling.

onlineanalyst on May 8, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Thank you so much, Ed. I’m glad you both had a chance to see these treasures. Sculpture has always amazed me, especially the marble ones. I simply can’t imagine even putting the first hammer and chisel to it, let alone come up with these masterpieces. I had the opportunity about 20 years ago to go and see for myself. It truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Deanna on May 8, 2011 at 6:28 PM

Unfortunately, the Muslims have desecrated many of the churches and holy sites that “offend” them. Have you seen what they have done to some of Europe’s churches? Their “handiwork” is appalling.

onlineanalyst on May 8, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Yeah and some of Europe’s moques have met the same fate (as recently as the 1990′s) at the hands of Christians…. hence my cynicism when Unseen implies that Muslim cultural vandalism is somehow unique.

lexhamfox on May 8, 2011 at 6:40 PM

Heh. You should have seen it on Monday and Tuesday after being without my cap on Sunday for the Beatification. It glowed in the night and interfered with low flying aircraft.

Ed Morrissey on May 8, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Oh Dear…. the same thing happened to me last weekend and now my lobster dome is molting!

lexhamfox on May 8, 2011 at 6:48 PM

Lex,

I am just getting past that point now. It’s weird having dandruff and no hair. :-)

Ed Morrissey on May 8, 2011 at 7:20 PM

One of the biggest problems in the world.

mankai on May 8, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Vatican City…world’s smallest sovereign nation, yet one of the most influential.

JetBoy on May 8, 2011 at 7:29 PM

Vatican City…world’s smallest sovereign nation, yet one of the most influential.

JetBoy on May 8, 2011 at 7:29 PM

Small because after centuries of fighting her tyrannical rule, she was finally defeated by the forces of liberty and reduced to a few square feet… and if not for Mussolini, she wouldn’t even have that.

mankai on May 8, 2011 at 7:32 PM

mankai on May 8, 2011 at 7:32 PM

Not even gonna get into it with you…just gonna send you a “God bless”.

JetBoy on May 8, 2011 at 7:36 PM

JetBoy on May 8, 2011 at 7:36 PM

Good choice… history is certainly not on your side.

“The papacy, being the most harmful of all secret societies, ought to be abolished.” – Giuseppe Garibaldi

mankai on May 8, 2011 at 7:46 PM

I didn’t know the King of Savoy was a libertarian.

andycanuck on May 8, 2011 at 7:56 PM

BTW, those great libertarians, Napoleon and Hitler, both confined the Pope to the Vatican too.

andycanuck on May 8, 2011 at 7:57 PM

Lex,

I am just getting past that point now. It’s weird having dandruff and no hair. :-)

Ed Morrissey on May 8, 2011 at 7:20 PM

I know first time for me too. You end up using a brush again but not to straighten hair….

lexhamfox on May 8, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Very nice.
You seem like a good fellow.
Just sayin’.

justltl on May 8, 2011 at 8:10 PM

Ed, did you make it to Pompeii?

ladyingray on May 8, 2011 at 8:55 PM

Fr. Haydu sets off my gaydar, just sayin’.

ernesto on May 8, 2011 at 9:15 PM

Thank you for sharing all the wonderful and beautiful photos of such an amazing place! How lucky you both are to experience such an important part of world history and our faith.

Ignore (as I am sure you are) the anti-Catholic bigot trolls who can’t wait to disparage and sneer with a preening moralistic chauvinism they would never be caught dead displaying if you were from any other culture or faith.

inmypajamas on May 8, 2011 at 10:32 PM

JetBoy on May 8, 2011 at 7:36 PM

Good choice… history is certainly not on your side.

“The papacy, being the most harmful of all secret societies, ought to be abolished.” – Giuseppe Garibaldi

mankai on May 8, 2011 at 7:46 PM

Coming from a member of a revolutionary secret society; the irony is thick…

Watch out, Mankai has his Evangelical’s Guide to Misinterpreting Papal Quotes.

darclon on May 8, 2011 at 11:17 PM

I appreciate your indulgence.

I think your “good works” in doing these travelogues absolve you of the need to seek indulgences. Besides, you just left the numero uno place in the world to receive them.

eeyore on May 9, 2011 at 12:06 AM

Watch out Ed…You just might end up on The Learning Channel…

Gohawgs on May 9, 2011 at 12:10 AM

Naw. We Catholics are a welcoming bunch, contrary to popular belief. :-)

gryphon202 on May 8, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Indeed, we want everyone to become Catholic!

Excellent, if the Swiss Guard come knocking, I’ll tell them you said it was OK.

SamTrev on May 8, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Yes, them, too!

Kensington on May 9, 2011 at 1:49 AM

Ed I’ve enjoyed the Rome posts too. I can just imagine the crowds for the beautification of Pope John because when we were there in September they were beautifying a teenager and the people and buses just kept coming and coming but we made it into the plaza there. I’m not surprised that you couldn’t get close.

So glad you and Marcia had a great time.

CCRWM on May 9, 2011 at 10:41 AM