Tag Archives: The Vatican

“It’s a miracle! We thought that it was water”

imageADAM WITHNALL Tuesday 25 February 2014
More wine is drunk per person in the Vatican City than in any other country in the world, according to the latest statistics released by the Wine Institute.

The figures show that residents of the Vatican consume 74 litres of wine on average – roughly equivalent to 105 bottles over the course of a year.

That’s around double the amount drunk by the average person in France or Italy as a whole, and triple the quantity consumed in the UK.

There is no denying that the population of the Vatican represents an unusual, and rather uniform, demographic.

As well as the occupational hazard of being required to take ceremonial Communion wine, the National Catholic Reporter said Vatican residents are more likely to be old, male, highly educated and eat in larger groups – all factors that can contribute to greater wine consumption.

These aspects of the Vatican’s national character are more likely to put it at the top than simply its size alone – though other so-called microstates also featured prominently in the Wine Institute’s list.

The fact that it only has a population of around 800 people does make it easy for per-capita figures to be distorted by outlying groups, however – and in the Vatican there is reportedly a single supermarket supplying everyone with wine almost completely tax-free.

 

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The old Latin Mass

Pope Francis Crackdown On Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate For Latin Mass Alarms Traditionalists
NICOLE WINFIELDAPDec 14, 2013
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis may have been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year, but he has come under scathing criticism from a growing number of traditionalist Catholics for cracking down on a religious order that celebrates the old Latin Mass. The case has become a flashpoint in the ideological tug-of-war going on in the Catholic Church over Francis’ revolutionary agenda, which has thrilled progressives and alarmed some conservatives.

The matter concerns the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, a small but growing order of several hundred priests, seminarians and nuns that was founded in Italy in 1990 as an offshoot of the larger Franciscan order of the pope’s namesake, St. Francis of Assisi.Then-Pope Benedict XVI launched an investigation into the congregation after five of its priests complained that the order was taking on an overly traditionalist bent, with the old Latin Mass being celebrated more and more at the expense of the liturgy in the vernacular.

While the order was in turmoil, the dispute at its core comes down to differing interpretations of the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which include the use of local languages in Mass that some considered a break with the church’s tradition.

Benedict, a great admirer of the pre-Vatican II Mass, had relaxed restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass in 2007.

The Vatican in July named the Rev. Fidenzio Volpi, a Franciscan Capuchin friar, as a special commissioner to run the order with a mandate to quell the dissent that had erupted over the liturgy, improve unity within its ranks and get a handle on its finances. In the same decree appointing Volpi, Francis forbade the friars from celebrating the old Latin Mass unless they got special permission, a clear rollback from Benedict’s 2007 decision.

In the weeks that followed, four tradition-minded Italian intellectuals wrote to the Vatican accusing it of violating Benedict’s 2007 edict by restricting the Latin Mass for the friars, saying the Holy See was imposing “unjust discrimination” against those who celebrate the ancient rite.

Volpi though was undeterred: He sent their founder, the Rev. Stefano Maria Manelli, to live in a religious home while he set about turning the order around.

And on Dec. 8, he took action, issuing a series of sanctions in the name of the pope that have stunned observers for their seeming severity: He closed the friars’ seminary and sent its students to other religious universities in Rome. He suspended the activities of the friars’ lay movement. He suspended ordinations of new priests for a year and required future priests to formally accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and its new liturgy or be kicked out. And he decreed that current priests must commit themselves in writing to following the existing mission of the order.

In a letter detailing the new measures, Volpi accused friars loyal to Manelli of seeking to undermine him and even accusing some of embezzlement. He denounced a cult of personality that has grown around Manelli, saying it “reveals a great spiritual poverty and psychological dependence that is incompatible with” the life in a religious community.

The sanctions seem harsh when compared to recent actions taken by the Vatican against other much larger religious orders or groups found to have doctrinal or other problems, such as the Holy See’s crackdown on social justice-minded American nuns or the Vatican’s reform efforts of the disgraced Legion of Christ. In both cases, a papal envoy was named to rewrite constitutions or statutes and oversee reforms, but Volpi’s actions with the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate would appear to go much further.

Traditionalists have charged that a double standard is at play, with a conservative, tradition-minded order being targeted for particular sanction on ideological grounds by a pope with a progressive bent.

“I hope that I am not being intemperate in describing this as rather harsh,” the Rev. Timothy Finigan, a British priest whose “The Hermeneutic of Continuity” blog is much-read in traditionalist circles, wrote last week of the sanctions.

Francis has called Benedict’s 2007 decree allowing wider use of the Latin Mass “prudent,” but has warned that it risks being exploited on ideological grounds by factions in the church; Francis has made clear his disdain for traditionalist Catholics, saying they are self-absorbed retrogrades who aren’t helping the church’s mission to evangelize.

For some, the issue is purely ideological: Christopher Ferrara, a columnist for The Wanderer, a traditionalist biweekly newspaper in the United States, said Volpi’s aim was to make the order conform to the more progressive ideology of other religious orders like Volpi’s own Capuchins, which he noted are dwindling in numbers while more conservative, tradition-minded orders like the Franciscan Friars are growing.

“Traditionalism isn’t an ideology, it’s holding fast to everything that has been handed down,” Ferrara said in a telephone interview.

A group of tradition-minded lay Catholics has launched an online petition asking for Volpi’s ouster, but it’s not clear how many signatories have yet signed on; an email seeking figures wasn’t returned Saturday.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, defended Volpi as a sage, esteemed and experienced administrator and dismissed calls for his ouster.

“He knows religious life well, was for many years head of the Italian conference of religious superiors and I think his nomination was a wise choice,” Lombardi said in an email to The Associated Press. “While the situation seems difficult and painful, it appears the letter is yet another demonstration that the naming of a commissioner was necessary and that he knows what to do with the powers he has.

“I don’t have any reason to doubt it,” Lombardi concluded.

The Rev. Robert Gahl, a moral theologian at the Opus Dei-run Pontifical Holy Cross University, said he was certain that the pope wasn’t opposed to the old Latin Mass and was not aiming to combat it by restricting its celebration with the Friars. He said Francis appeared to be taking the measures to quell the internal conflicts that arose over its celebration, and then took other measures after financial irregularities occurred.

“Liturgy is always a surprisingly sensitive topic,” he said. “It can be extremely controversial and can upset communities even when the substance of the disagreement is minuscule. So, I think Francis is pushing for community peace and unity which may entail a temporary reduction in some use” of the old Latin Mass.

“I’m certain that Francis wants unity in Christ and to put a stop to the back-biting between ideological groups in the church, also by those who ideologize the liturgy,”

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‘The Vatican: All The Paintings’ Book Opens Up Religious Art Of The Vatican Museum

A new book by Anja Grebe celebrates the stunning art collection of the Vatican by featuring every Old Master painting on display. “The Vatican: All The Paintings” also includes images of sculptures, maps, and tapestries which span centuries of artistic genius.

If geography is destiny, it is only appropriate that the Vatican Museums hold one of the world’s greatest art collections. Home to masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian, the Vatican has always been a place sacred to the arts. The poetic and creative impulses of the hill beside the Tiber are revealed in its name: The ancient Romans called this modest eminence the Mons Vaticanus, a reference to the poets and seers, or vates, who dwelled there. For many centuries, popes, cardinals, and the religious orders were responsible for the realization of dozens of masterpieces. So many of the treasures in the collections of the Vatican Museums—gorgeously reproduced in Black Dog & Leventhal’s The Vatican: All the Paintings and clearly described by Anja Grebe—depict a vibrant and vivid view into a world of beauty and faith. Walking through the Vatican, or turning the pages of the book, we get an incomparable lesson in the history of art and a profound impression of the skill and passion of the artists, and of their wonderful “force of mind.”

— Introduction by Ross King, author of Brunelleschi’s Dome and Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling
Take a look inside with these gorgeous images:
Raphael: Raphael Rooms, The School of Athens
raphael rooms
One of the most famous paintings in the Raphael Rooms is the School of Athens representing philosophy and science, disciplines in which Raphael includes painting and architecture. It is in part an homage to some of the most important artists and scholars active at the papal court at the beginning of the sixteenth century, most importantly the architect Bramante, to whom Raphael owed his recommendation to Julius II. This painting, whose sophisticated perspective opens up a deep vista in the small room, represents an idealized gathering of scholars and artists from the classical world, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance, and constitutes one of Raphael’s greatest achievements.
Michelangelo: Sistine Chapel, The Last Judgment (detail with Christ, The Virgin Mary and Saints)
last judgment
Michelangelo’s enormous painting unites some 390 persons around the central Christ figure, and almost all are naked. The work depicts the resurrection of the dead and their separation into the saved and the damned. While the saved souls ascend to heaven on Christ’s right-hand side, the side of the “just,” the damned descend to hell on his left. The nude figures, particularly the saints, offended many of Michelangelo’s contemporaries. The stern theologians at the Council of Trent denounced the fresco and commissioned painter Daniele da Volterra to paint vestments and fig leaves over some of the naked figures in 1565, a year after Michelangelo died. These alterations were reversed during the chapel’s restoration.
Pinturicchio: Borgia Apartments, Annunciation
annunciation
The first room Borgia Apartments, the Room of the Mysteries of Faith, is decorated with scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary. The Annunciation of the Birth of Christ is the first in the sequence. Pinturicchio has painted the event, which according to the Gospel of St. Luke occurred in Mary’s house, in a palatial Renaissance-style interior closed off at the back by an architectural element resembling a triumphal arch. The Annunciation itself takes place in the foreground of this rigorously symmetrical fresco. Mary, wearing a blue mantle, kneels on the right and offers a humble gesture of greeting to the angel, who approaches her from the left holding a lily.
Giotto: Pinacoteca, Stefaneschi Polyptych
giotto
The Stefaneschi Polyptych is one of the oldest works in the Pinacoteca. It is closely tied to the history of the Vatican. The Florentine painter Giotto di Bondone completed this richly gilded double-sided work between 1320 and 1330 for the high altar of Old St. Peter’s. The polyptych was commissioned by Cardinal Jacopo Caetani Stefaneschi (ca. 1270–1343), whom Giotto portrays at the feet of St. Peter’s throne holding a detailed model of the altar on which the donor himself can be seen. This likeness is regarded as one of the first realistic portraits in the history of painting.
Leonardo da Vinci: Pinacoteca, St. Jerome
da vinci
This panel of St. Jerome is one of Leonardo da Vinci’s more enigmatic works. It was painted around 1482, the year Leonardo moved from Florence to the ducal court in Milan. It is not known why the highly innovative picture was never finished. It may be that the work failed to meet with the approval of a possible patron or that Leonardo’s own perfectionism led him to abandon it. From a contemporary point of view, the work is fascinating precisely because of its sketch-like state, as this affords an insight into Leonardo’s painting method. The work was only identified in the early nineteenth century—by the painter Angelica Kaufmann—as the work of Leonardo. It was acquired by Pius IX for the Pinacoteca Vaticana in 1856.
Raphael: St. Peter Healing a Lame Man, Tapestry
raphael
The healing of the lame man was St. Peter’s first miracle as an apostle. According to the Acts of the Apostles, St. Peter healed a crippled beggar by the door of the Temple with the simple words: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6). Raphael sets the scene beneath the mighty twisted columns of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, whose form and decoration Pieter van Aelst has skillfully translated into tapestry. In the center column we see the act of healing taking place, with apostles St. Peter and St. John and the lame man. Raphael has chosen to depict the moment when St. Peter takes the beggar, who is sitting on the floor, by the hand and thereby effects the miracle.
Roman artist: Pio-Clementino Museum, Laocoön
lacoon
In early 1506 a large marble sculptural group was discovered in the Esquiline vineyards. In his Natural History, the classical author Pliny the Elder (ca. 23–79 AD) describes the Laocoön as a work that is “to be preferred to all other works of painting and sculpture.” This sculptural group, acquired by Julius II in 1506, was one of the earliest works to be exhibited in the Cortile Ottagono and it remains among the most famous of all antique sculptures. Thought to have been made after a Greek bronze original, the group depicts the gruesome death of the Trojan priest Laocoön after warning his fellow citizens of the deception involving the Trojan Horse. Artists such as Michelangelo admired the realistic depiction of the play of muscles, shown here at the point of their greatest exertion, and the convincing facial expressions and gestures of figures in the throes of death.
Roman artist, Pio-Clementino Museum: Apollo Belvedere
apollo
The Apollo Belvedere is perhaps the most famous statue in the Vatican Museums and one of the best-known sculptures in the history of art. This figure of the antique god of the Muses and of war was discovered virtually undamaged at the end of the fifteenth century and put on display by Julius II in the Belvedere courtyard by 1508 at the latest. The larger-than-life-size statue depicts Apollo not as the art loving god of the Muses holding a lyre, but instead in a more martial pose. Disseminated in numerous reproductions, the sculpture has been regarded as the epitome of classical beauty ever since it was put on display in the Cortile Ottagono.
Etruscan goldsmith, Gregorian Etruscan Museum: Large Golden Fibula
fibula
This large solid-gold fibula, used to fasten its owner’s robes at the shoulder, is one of the most precious objects in the Gregorian Etruscan Museum. It was found in the socalled Regolini-Galassi tomb in a previously undisturbed necropolis at Cerveteri in 1836. Together with other richly decorated gold items that also found their way into the Vatican, the clasp formed part of the ceremonial dress of the deceased, who must have been a member of the highest aristocracy or even the royal family.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter’s Basilica: St. Longinus
st longinus
According to Christian legend, St. Longinus was the soldier who pierced the side of Christ on the cross with his spear (John 19:34). He is also identified with the Roman captain described in the Gospel of St. Mark as having acknowledged Christ’s divinity after seeing him die: “Truly this man was the son of God!” (Mark 15:39). Longinus was the subject of great veneration as the first pagan convert in the Catholic Church. Bernini sculpted the colossal statue of the saint, one of his most famous creations, for the Longinus pier between 1628 and 1638. St. Longinus stands in a contrapposto stance with widespread arms, symbolizing his readiness to embrace the Christian faith. The emotion and excitement of the saint at the moment of recognizing God is revealed through his ecstatic, upward gaze and the agitated folds of his mantle, which are also examples of Bernini’s mastery.
Pietro Perugino, Pinacoteca, Sala VII: Madonna and Child with Saints
perugrino
The “Madonna and Child with Saints” is one of Pietro Perugino’s most beautiful paintings. Especially stunning is the virtuoso rendering of the sumptuous fabrics. Each figure is given an individual, almost portrait-like expression. The artist proudly signed his masterpiece on the footrest underneath the Madonna.

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