Saturday, October 02, 2010

Sistine Catechesis

"The Sistine Chapel, although it is part of a museum complex, is not a museum. It is a consecrated space. Moreover, it is the true and proper place of identity for the Roman Catholic Church. The great liturgies are celebrated here, the cardinals assembled in conclave elect the pontiff here.

"At the same time, the Sistine is the synthesis of Catholic theology.

The history of the world, from cosmogony to the last judgment, is represented here together with the destiny of man redeemed by Christ. The Sistine is the history of salvation for all and for each one, it is the affirmation of the primacy of the pope of Rome, it is the time 'sub gratia' that absorbs, transfigures, and assimilates the time 'sub lege' of the Old Testament. It is the ark of the new and definitive covenant that God has established with the Christian people.

It is no accident that the architect Baccio Pontelli was ordered by the pope to give the chapel the dimensions of the lost Temple of Jerusalem as they are related by the Bible.

"All of this to say that the Sistine is a place of art of absolute excellence, but is also a place of the highest catechesis, it is 'Painted Word', perfectly eloquent today just as yesterday. To keep it open for all so that all may see and understand is the duty and mission of those who administer the museums of the Holy See."

Professor Antonio Paolucci, Director of the Vatican Museums. in L'Osservatore Romano on September 13, 2010

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