Papal Perspective

The Pope calendar in our apartment definitely set the tone for the day.

The Pope calendar in our apartment definitely set the tone for the day.

On Saturday, May 30th, I spent six hours in the Vatican City. Four were spent in the Vatican Museums. One was spent eating. One was spent admiring the Piazza de San Pietro.

Pictures will never be enough. Words will never be enough.

The Vatican Museums hold painting upon painting upon sculpture upon tapestry of gorgeous, meaningful religious art. Every new room or hallway brings new art and a new short moment of your breath being taken away. The ceilings are always painted and always unbelievable. It’s an experience everyone should have.

This ceiling. So intricate and stunning.

This ceiling. So intricate and stunning.


I saw da Vinci’s, Raphael’s, Van Gogh’s, and Dali’s that day. Sometimes they wouldn’t even be displayed prominently. I almost missed van Gogh’s “Pietra” but I luckily decided to loiter in the small room for a bit longer and look at a few more pieces. Let me repeat that: I ALMOST MISSED A VAN GOGH. But that’s because it’s only a small drop in the extensive collection of the Vatican. It’s unreal.

da Vinci's "St. Jerome in the Wilderness"

da Vinci’s “St. Jerome in the Wilderness”‘

Raphael's "The Transfiguration." The last painting he ever completed.

Raphael’s “The Transfiguration.” The last painting he ever completed.

Dali's "Angelic Landscape"

Dali’s “Angelic Landscape”

van Gogh's "Pietra." I ALMOST MISSED IT??

van Gogh’s “Pietra.”


Of course, the highlight of the day was the Sistine Chapel. It’s what the whole day had been leading up to. Walking in that room was heart-poundingly exciting. You know what’s coming – yet you have no idea. After being in the Chapel for about 15 minutes I realized that my mouth had been hanging open the entire time. There was so much to look at and it was all insanely detailed. I just am amazed that the entire room was covered in true-to-form people. I just think at some point Michelangelo would’ve been like “Ugh my arm is sore. Gonna cut some artistic corners here. Gonna clothe some of these people. Maybe invent minimalism right quick.” But no. It’s all full out. In terms of logistics, they have serious rules about being in the Sistine Chapel – women and men have to have their knees and shoulders covered, you have to be silent, and no pictures are allowed. It’s an intensely spiritual experience, and the Vatican works hard to ensure that. It’s also an experience that I believe is made better because you can’t worry about trying to get the right lighting and you aren’t looking past the phones and cameras. You just look at the art and take the few moments to reflect.

Piazza di San Pietro

Piazza di San Pietro

Afterwards, we were waiting for a bus to take us back at a stop about two blocks away from St Peter’s Square. We had just marveled, oohed and ahhed, and selfied away at the Basilica. It’s gigantic and amazing. But all of a sudden there was this man who was walking along the street by the bus stop, in not the best clothes, with untrimmed hair, picking up half smoked cigarettes. Suddenly, the day was put into perspective. Seeing a da Vinci was amazing, but it’s also amazing to consistently have enough money for meals. Some people have one or the other, some have neither. I have both. I’m so thankful for that.

2 thoughts on “Papal Perspective

  1. Reading your writing is so wonderful, brings me to tears every time. We are grateful to be able to share your experience through your blog. Love you

  2. I’m thankful that you are a woman that notices and takes in the whole world. There are dark sides to beauty, splendor and preservation. I’m thankful for the leadership of Pope Francis who can talk about the whole world as well. Love, prayers and gratitude.

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