sistine chapel and vatican museums

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Our 4th day in Rome we had almost the entire day to do whatever we wanted. Cameron and I woke up, grabbed breakfast and coffee and set off to get some shopping done. I have to say the shopping we did in Rome has been the best I've ever done anywhere! It was so much fun! We bought lots of clothes and souvenirs for our family. Cameron and I fell in the love with the clothes in Italy. Not only were they so super cute but very reasonably priced! Our shopping afternoon was loads of fun.

That evening the company that we came on the trip with, had scheduled a private tour of the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums. I had been looking forward to this from the moment we found out we were going. Growing up Catholic, to visit the Vatican is a life long dream.

As we pulled up I was surprised to see that there is a giant stone and brick wall surrounding the Vatican. I was also surprised that it's considered it's own country. If you live there you have a separate passport. 

The original entrance to the Vatican

After going through the most intense security I've ever been through we walked into a glass hallway and got a glimpse of St. Peter's.

Then we headed out to some of the Vatican Gardens

After that we were lead back inside to tour some of the Vatican Museums
Every single inch of these hallways were painted the most beautiful paintings you've ever seen. Cameron and I were was truly breathtaking.

We came to a hallway that the walls were lined with these giant tapestries depicting Bible stories. These tapestries stretched from floor to ceiling and had gold woven in them. The date back to 1500's

 This one was my favorite. Jesus' eyes follow you as you walk. It was a very interesting feeling. Plus this version of Jesus seems the most real to me was to what he looked like then any other.

We were then led into another room with giant wall paintings.

This is a very famous painting called "The School of Athens" painted by Raphael.  I have to say I was pretty embarrassed that I had never heard of it. 
"The School of Athens is one of a group of four main frescoes on the walls of the Stanza (those on either side centrally interrupted by windows) that depict distinct branches of knowledge. Each theme is identified above by a separate tondo containing a majestic female figure seated in the clouds, with putti bearing the phrases: "Seek Knowledge of Causes," "Divine Inspiration," "Knowledge of Things Divine" (Disputa), "To Each What Is Due." Accordingly, the figures on the walls below exemplify Philosophy, Poetry (including Music), Theology, and Law."
"In the center of the fresco, at its architecture's central vanishing point, are the two undisputed main subjects: Plato on the left and Aristotle, his student, on the right. Both figures hold modern (of the time), bound copies of their books in their left hands, while gesturing with their right. Plato holds Timaeus, Aristotle his Nicomachean Ethics. Plato is depicted as old, grey, wise-looking, and bare-foot. By contrast Aristotle, slightly ahead of him, is in mature manhood, handsome, well-shod and dressed with gold, and the youth about them seem to look his way"
info from Wikipedia

 The last hallway we walked down leading into the Sistine Chapel. The tour guide said that this is hallway that the Pope walks down to go there. Again every square inch was covered in paintings or gold.

 The outside of the Sistine Chapel.
  I was so surprised by how simple the outside of it looked. It looked nothing like a chapel we would think of. It is literally just a plain brick building sandwiched between other buildings.

However once you are in it's quite majestic.
I know this might sound CRAZY but I had no idea Michelangelo's famous painting at the center ceiling was of God touching Adam to give him life. The 7 days of creation are depicted on the ceiling.
You know those moments in life you never forget...this was one for me. We were the first group of 20 to walk into the chapel. Our tour guide got a little choked up and stood there staring at the ceiling and said "you can't believe what an honor this is. At any given time there are no less then 1,000 people in this room. I have never been in here with only 20." Because it's a chapel you have to stay quite to show reverence. The whole experience was very surreal.
 And the can't even begin to imagine how amazing it is in person. 
 And how big. I was just awe struck at the size of it all.
The Last Judgment, or The Final Judgement (ItalianIl Giudizio Universale),[1] is a fresco by the Italian Renaissance master Michelangelo executed on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. It is a depiction of the Second Coming of Christ and the final and eternal judgment by God of all humanity. The souls of humans rise and descend to their fates, as judged by Christ surrounded by prominentsaints including Saints Catherine of Alexandria, Peter, Lawrence, Bartholomew, Paul, Sebastian, John the Baptist, and others.
The work took four years to complete and was done between 1536 and 1541 (preparation of the altar wall began in 1535.) Michelangelo began working on it twenty five years after having finished the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
 This was Michelangelo's last painting in the chapel. And he didn't even want to do it! They said that he always battled with the Pope's because he did not agree with how they lived their life. They had lots of money and lived and ruled like Kings and he believed that the leader of the church should live modestly. I bet he would have like Pope Francis :) But they forced him to paint this. As a way of getting back at the Pope, if you look Jesus in the center, then to the bottom right...that's Saint Bartholemew. He was skinned alived therefore he is holding his skin. That face of the skin is the face of Michaelangelo. He painted his face in the skin. At the bottom right hand side are the devil's angels pulling people to hell. The man wrapped up in the snake is the pope at that time.

After leaving the chapel we headed through the hallways of gifts that have been given to the Popes.

While all these things were beautiful to look at, I kind of had a personal moment of religious clarity. While I am not going to go into it, my feelings for my church changed a bit. I am and will always be a practicing Catholic but these men over the years that shaped our church and some of the beliefs I hold were not as "holy" as they should be. We learned that they had mistresses and children and had people killed all while living in palaces and being adorned with gifts. I am very thankful that we have the Pope we do now. He lives in a small apartment at the Vatican, not the Pope Palace. They told us that every single gift he is given he collects, then sells tickets to the people of Rome and holds a drawing where he gives away the presents. All the money raised goes to the poor. He's given away jewelry and even cars! Our tour guide said one of her friends won a piece of the jewelry! He keeps nothing and lives simply. That's how the Pope should be. She also said the people of Rome love Pope Francis where as in the past that has not been the case with the Popes. we were leaving that evening we caught another glimpse of St. Peter's. 
Cameron and I were headed there the next day and this was by the far the part of the trip I was most looking forward to. 


  1. So many beautiful things I hope to see one day! I'm sad that you left feeling different about the Catholic faith. While I agree there were a few Popes who lived sinful lives there have been many more holy Popes. Sounds like you had a few anti-Catholic tour guides. LOL.

    1. The funny thing was all our tour guides were raised Catholic. They were older and I think living where you are constantly around generations of Popes that rule might jade your opinion ;) I also think being raised Catholic is a lot different from being converted. It's almost beat into your head to hold these people in power at a higher level. I've actually talked to my dad a lot about this and he feels the same way. Popes, Cardinals and Priest are all human, some are sinful some are not. I guess it was just eye opening and a learning experience for me not to follow blindly anymore and to teach my children not to. I still love my faith and will always respect my Catholic upbringing and religion but I am starting to lean more towards the Bible, the life of Jesus, Mary and the many Saints as how to live.


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