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Limiting access to the Sistine Chapel

October 31, 2012

From BBC:

There is an argument that it should be made as easy as possible for any pilgrim coming to Rome to see this room that has such a significant place in the Catholic world.  And just a matter of weeks ago, in a newspaper article, [Vatican Museum director] Mr. [Antonio] Paolucci said it would be as “unthinkable” to limit access to the Sistine Chapel as it would be to limit access to the famous shrine at Lourdes.

But [Italian literary] critic, Mr. [Pietro] Citati takes a darker view, arguing that it is all about money.  The Church makes a significant amount out of visitors to the Chapel and the other delights of the Vatican Museums.  Everybody in the long queues in St Peter’s Square is paying more than 15 euros (£12.50) for a ticket.  But it is possible though to avoid the masses if you can spare close to 220 euros for a private tour.  Each involves about 10 people who are allowed into the Chapel outside the standard opening hours….

Writing shortly before his recent death, the art critic Robert Hughes recalled reading of the German writer, Goethe, visiting the Chapel 200 years ago.  Back then the Sistine was “a place where one could be alone, or nearly so, with the products of genius,” Hughes wrote.  “The very idea seems absurd, today; a fantasy. Mass tourism has turned what was a contemplative pleasure for Goethe’s contemporaries into an ordeal more like a degrading rugby scrum.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Deane permalink
    October 31, 2012 12:32 pm

    As somebody who has both been in the Sistene Chapel and who used to be a hooker, I think I can confirm that there is nothing degrading about a rugby scrum. One thing that the Sistene Chapel and a rugby scrum has is that you’re likely to leave both with a crick in your neck.

    Now don’t get me wrong when I say I used to be a hooker…

  2. October 31, 2012 2:21 pm

    LOL, Deane. As somebody who has both been lost in the Sistine Chapel and who used to be a scrum-half, I must say I appreciate the cricks in your neck. (My first time in the Sistine Chapel I was a first-grader whose parents lost me somewhat the way the parents of the lad Jesus lost him when he stayed behind fascinated. My first time in the rugby scrum I was persuaded by the good coach to play elsewhere but hardly because it was degrading.)

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