The Vatican City is the smallest independent country with 500 residents. It has its own flag and a Swiss guard to protect the Pope. The Swiss Guard is made up of 100 soldiers. Those soldiers must be Swiss males between the ages of 19 and 30. They must be Catholic and be at least 174 cm tall. Despite its small size, the Vatican receives 10 million visitors annually.
Vatican Museums St. Peter's Cathedral
Octagonal Court in the Pio Clementino Museum
Description: Divinita fluviale
(i.e. River god), which shows the river god in aa traditional reclining pose, dates from the time of the Emperor Hadran and was inspired by a Greek prototype.
Description: Perseo trionfante
shows the triumphant Persus holding the severed head of the Medusa, one of the three Gorgons. The hero is shown with the winged cap, the sandals of Mercury and the sword which had been given to him in order to complete this task. The statue was carved by Antonio Canova (1757-1822) in the space of a few months between the end of the year 1800 and the beginning of 1801.
The Gallery of World Maps
Following the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Pius IX on 8 December 1854 the Pontiff decided to celebrate the event with a cycle of frescoes. The large hall adjacent to the rooms of Raphael in the Borgia Tower was chosen and the work was commissioned from the Ancona artist Francesco Podesti (1800-1895). He worked on the project from 1856 to 1865, designing and completing each part himself.
The Room of Heliodorus is the second in which Raphael worked. It is impressive because of the quality of the painting, the splendid colors, the magnificent unsurpassed effects of light as well as the striking portraits. Some areas in the grotesques and arches of the ceiling are attributed to Luca Signorelli, Bramantino. Lorenxo Lotto and Cesare de Sesto. These form part of the first decoration which Julius II commissioned at the beginning of his papacy. The work was interrupted and then substituted by what we see today due to the pope's admiration for Raphael's first frescoes in the adjacent Room of the Signature. Raphael worked in this room from 1511 till 1514, lastly substituting the grotesques at the center of the ceiling with four episodes from the Old Testament: the Pact between God and Noah, the Sacrifice of Isaac, Moses before the Burning Bush and Jacob's Ladder.
Because pictures are forbidden in the Sistine Chapel, this is a picture taken from the
Vatican Museums website
. Pope Sixtus IV commissioned the Sistine Chapel in the fifteenth century. In 1508, Michelangelo reluctantly accepted the job of painting the chapel. He saw himself a sculptor but took the job to annoy his rival Bramante. The job took four years to complete.
According to some testimonies, Michelangelo is considered to be bisexual or homosexual which made him consider the male body as the perfect body. This can be seen in his paintings if woman that have such a muscular shape that they look more male than female.
View of the Basilica St. Peter from the Vatican Museums
In 1506, Pope Julius II commissioned Bramante to rebuild the church into what it is today. In the mid-1600s, Bernini created the columned wings of the square. They are intended to create a welcoming environment and welcome both believers and non-believers alike. The church was finally completed in 1626.
The oval courtyard is the site of Nero’s Roman chariot racecourse. At halftime, Romans killed Christians for entertainment. Whether forcing them to fight with wild animals or gladiators or being crucified, Romans always came up with creative ways to kill the religious minority. It is believed that Peter was also killed during these halftimes around 65 A.D. and later laid to rest in the cemetery on the Vatican Hill. Emperor Constantinople ordered a church to be built over Peter’s remains in 320. Peter is considered the first pope.
Main Altar (bronze sculpture in the distance) is only used when the Pope says mass. The relatively small structure would be very hard to locate in the massive cathedral if it wasn’t for and Bernini’s Baldacchino, i.e. the bronze canopy on top of the altar. The Barberini family commissioned the altar and ordered the scavenging of Pantheon for bronze to create this sculpture. Peter’s tomb lies about twenty five feet beneath the altar, under the dome.
Michelangelo created the Pietà when he was only 24 years old, between 1498 and 1499. He heard gossip in the streets that people didn’t believe he could create such a magnificent sculpture at such a young age. He got mad and signed it to prove them wrong. This is the only Michelangelo artwork that is signed by him. If you look closely at the marble sculpture, you’ll notice that Madonna’s face is younger than that of her own 33 year old son. If they were both to stand up, Madonna would be significantly larger than her own son. This suggests the intense amount of pain that Madonna felt for her son.
The apse was built from 1647 to 1653 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The dove in the center represents the Holy Spirit pouring sunlight onto the faithful. Whenever real sunlight pours in through that window, it gives the effect of artificial rays of gold pouring in to the church. The throne of Peter is supported by four Church Fathers. This symbolizes that the bishops should support the Pope during difficult times.
This Statue of Peter is one of the few elements that was brought over from the old church. Pilgrims rub St. Peter’s foot as a sign of respect.