Saturday, August 04, 2012

Mihi enim vivere Christus est et mori lucrum

"The Pauline Chapel ... is the most intimate and private among the chapels of Apostolic Palace. The Pauline is the chapel which, even more than the Sistine, is called to evoke the mission and destiny of the Universal Church. ... [T]his Chapel is dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. On the first rests the historical and juridical legitimacy of the Roman pontiffs. The second is the corner stone which sustains and justifies the doctrine of the Church and its ecumenical mission 
The Popes of the XVI century, amidst the Reformation and Counter Reformation, were utterly aware of the extraordinary symbolic meaning of this place which explains the complicated construction and decorative itinerary of this chapel, so full of interruptions, reworkings and adjustments by multiple Popes. ... 
The present image of the Pauline Chapel is basically the one that Gregory XIII wanted during his papacy (1572 - 1585) and it is characterized by the large murals of Sabatini and Zuccari, which describe the most important episodes of the life of St. Peter and Paul and by the gold and coloured decorations of the vault, which recall the Gallery of the Geographical Maps. 
Professor Antonio Paolucci Director of the Vatican Museums

After the recent renovations Pope Benedict XVI said of the Chapel::

"For those who come to pray in this chapel, and above all for the Pope, Peter and Paul become teachers of faith.  
With their witness they invite us to go deeper, to meditate in silence upon the mystery of the Cross, which accompanies the Church until the end of time, and to absorb the light of the faith.  
It is thanks to this light that the apostolic Community can extend to the ends of the earth the missionary and evangelizing action entrusted to it by the Risen Christ.  
Solemn celebrations with the people are not held here.  
This is where the Successor of Peter and his collaborators meditate in silence and adore the living Christ, present above all in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist." 

On the walls are a number of quotations. There is one in a prominent place which is from St Paul`s Letter to the Philippians (1.21):

"Mihi enim vivere Christus est et mori lucrum"
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is to gain."

It is of course this Letter which St Paul wrote in prison in Rome while awaiting his sentence in about AD 62