April 1 – June 12, 2016

Cortile delle Corazze

Among the several chapels that populate the museums, the palaces and the Vatican corridors, there is one named Chapel of St. Pellegrino. Presently this Chapel provides religious services for the men of the Gendarmeria; for centuries until 1977 it was the Chapel of the Pontifical Swiss Guards, the armed body who defends the Holy Father, as founded by Pope Julius II in 1506. The walls of this Chapel are entirely covered with frescoes indicating the name and coat of arms of the Commanders of the Swiss Guard. Among them, there is one coat of arm that merits remembrance: that of Commander Kaspar Röist. The incision in Latin states that he died while fightingInvito - The Life of a Swiss Guard, 1 aprile 2016 “in illa infelici urbis direptione”, “in that unfortunate disruption of the City”. And here the terrible day of May 1527 is evoked, the Sack of Rome. Fourteen thousands Lanzichenecchi, mainly Lutherans guided by Georg von Frundsberg, attacked the Apostolic Buildings. There were 147 Swiss soldiers to defend them. It was a fierce fight; pike against pike, sword and dagger against sword and dagger, Swiss against Germans. At the end of this massacre all the Swiss soldiers of the Pope were dead. Among them was Commander Kaspar Röist, who scarified his life with his soldiers in order to allow the Pope Clemens VII to flee with his entourage in the impregnable fortress of Castel Sant’Angelo.

The army of the Swiss Guards, still today recruited in the cantons of the Swiss Nation, remains the guardian of glorious and heroic memories such as those represented by Commander Kaspar Röist. The awareness of that ancient story is always present in the daily life of the young soldiers. They are, therefore, proud of the role they represent and the service to which they are called. However, they are also young men in their twenties with the same dreams, enthusiasm, and hope that any 20-year-old has. This is what the photographic service of Fabio Mantegna shows. Here the photographic image itself, through the choice of subject, the composition of the shot, and the effects of light, offers a glimpse on the reality of the Guard which is never banal. It shows us, through some of the most well known architectonic views and the lesser known sides of the Vatican, of the sense of duty and humanity with which the Swiss Guards are committed to carrying out their tasks. We wanted, together with Commander Christoph Graf, to transform this into an exhibition that, born from an idea of Dr. Romina Cometti with the support of Father Mark Haydu LC, will be unveiled in the Vatican Museums. Thanks to the generosity of the California Chapter of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums headed by Mr. Michael Scott Feeley, this exhibition is destined to travel in several cities worldwide. It is an exhibition showing a noble and ancient story, but it also speaks of the beautiful youth of a group of young men who are at the service of the Roman Pontiff.

Prof. Antonio Paolucci


Father Mark Speaks at Leadership Conference in Napa, California

Fr. Mark was asked to participate in the prestigious Napa Institute Conference this year where he will be presenting two lectures: one on “Evangelizing through Beauty” on Thursday, July 30 at 5:30 pm and a second on “Beauty and Prayer” on Saturday, August 1 at 2:10 pm.

The conference features around 400 members of Catholic leadership from around the world, and runs from July 29 – August 2. The themes this year will be The Family, Catechism of the Catholic Church and Reason & Faith. We are so proud that Fr. Mark was chosen to present along with so many other Catholic luminaries – for a complete schedule of conference events click here.

Congratulations to Fr. Mark for this honor and we wish him the best in his presentations. If you are interested in attending there are still reservations available at:

Next year’s conference is already in the works for July 2016 – for more information on that and other events see the Napa Institute’s website.

11194411_920508478012500_7547381575599807879_oFor more on 2016: see this link.

The Patron’s Pilgrimage Was a Trip to Remember

Fr. Mark and several of our favorite art experts were honored to join our patrons on a spiritual and artistic journey. From May 1 until May 7 – patrons gathered at sea on a sumptuous cruise which featured stops in some of Europe’s most beautiful and meaningful cities. Patrons came from everywhere, from Michigan to Florida, Colorado and California. The travellers visited Gaudi’s famous church, The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, spend time at the Prince’s palace in Monaco, and were able to join his eminence Cardinal Harvey for Mass at Santa Maria Regina Della Famiglia in the Governatorato. In France they also were given a special tour of the famous Cistercian monastery Le Thoronet Abbey. They found the austere and resonant surroundings inspirational and even had a chance to pray in this meditative space.  And at each stop our patrons interacted with experts and had the opportunity to learn insights about the sites from trained historians and theologians.

Many patrons extended their trip to include an additional three-day pilgrimage to Rome where they were able to take advantage of exclusive tours and ultimately attend a farewell Gala Dinner in the Gallery of the Busts here at the Museum. It was wonderful to have everyone here.

Many thanks to everyone who chose to join in on the cruise and I’m sure you can attest to what a wonderful time it was. To keep up with friends from the cruise and show off your pictures we’ve created this facebook page.

It’s a great way to stay in touch with your patron friends and to see what the cruise was like! And attendees, please don’t hesitate to send your stories and pictures to us here.  

Photo of the Patrons in Gaudi's Sagrada Familia. Photo by John Hale.

Photo of the Patrons in Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Photo by John Hale.

Patrons in the Sistine Chapel

Patrons in the Sistine Chapel

Patrons with his Eminence James Michael Cardinal Harvey in front of Santa Maria Regina della Famiglia.

Patrons with his Eminence James Michael Cardinal Harvey in front of Santa Maria Regina della Famiglia.

In the Gallery of the Busts.

Gala Dinner in the Gallery of the Busts.

Sign Up Soon, Limited Availability! Upcoming Patrons Mediterranean Cruise

May 1-May 7th, 2015 (optional Rome extension May 7 – 10)

Cabins aboard our 2015 Mediterranean Cruise have been filling up! Sign up to join us on deck by February 13th to secure your passage. Click here for more details.

Reunite with The Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican this Spring with the trip of a lifetime! Book PAVM’s May 2015 Mediterranean Cruise. Current prices valid thru February 13. Limited availability!

The cruise will visit the gems of the Mediterranean– leaving from Barcelona and visiting St. Tropez with an optional extension in Rome. Talks and guided tours are given by an art expert from the Louvre and the trip even includes a private after-hours tour of the Prince’s Palace in Monte Carlo. The Rome extension also features an exclusive tour of the Sistine Chapel. This is a singular travel experience you won’t forget!

Corporate Travel Service

Please call Sue today at 800.727.1999 for more information and registration or email her at

Link to the brochure for more details.

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The Curse of Mummy-Mania: Patrons Help Unravel a Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma

Mummy Mania is not exactly a scientific term – but it accurately describes the Egyptian history craze that swept Europe after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799 (which allowed for the translation of Hieroglyphics). In the rush to supply the Egypt-a-philic art collectors and museums that popped up on the continent, tombs were ransacked and ruins were exploited. Tourists swarmed the pyramids and every visitor to Egypt wanted to come home with a genuine mummy – correspondingly, there was a booming market for forgeries.

Napoleon in Egypt Studying a Mummy, Print by E. Fiorello

Napoleon in Egypt Studying a Mummy, Print by E. Fiorello

Forgeries of mummies are nothing new – researchers say that there were faux mummies even in the time of the Pharaohs and even more when high demand when during the Middle Ages through the Renaissance they were ground up used as a powder for apothecary potions. Often smaller mummies – “mummiettes” (child or animal mummies) made the best fakes, which held, deep underneath ancient bandages, contemporary bird bones or sometimes nothing at all.

Examples of apothecary potions

Examples of apothecary potions

Two of these fake mummies were the objects of study at the most recent Vatican restorers conference held on January 22, 2015. Professor Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, provided an introduction and Alessia Amenta, curator of the Department of Egyptian Antiquities and the Near East followed up with analysis along with Ulderico Santamaria, head of the Laboratory of Diagnostic for the Conservation and Restoration of the Vatican Museums with his colleagues Fabio Morresi and SvevaLongo. In the curious cases of these mummies, the forgeries and techniques used to discover them were just as interesting as if they found the real things.

A Case of "Mummy-Mania" Conference including speakers: Fabio Morresi, Alessia Amenta, Antonio Paolucci, Ulderico Santamaria, and Svevo Longo (from left to right)

A Case of “Mummy-Mania” Conference including speakers: Fabio Morresi, Alessia Amenta, Antonio Paolucci, Ulderico Santamaria, and Svevo Longo (from left to right)

Thanks to the California patrons who supported this project, (particularly Juliann and Michael O’Connor) our labs were able to use X-ray fluorescence and electron microscopes to discover the chemical elements of materials, and infrared and ultraviolet analyses revealed colors and images hidden to the naked eye. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry identified the presence of organic compounds and the project was topped off with CT-scans to create 3D images of the contents.  These analyses revealed the presence of zinc and tin in the paints and a metal laminate used to create false aging. Then “multiplanar reconstruction” of hundreds of CT-scan images pieced together revealed a 19th century nail that could not have been seen on the initial X-ray. Also, with carbon dating, restorers found that the bones wrapped inside were actually adult bones from the middle ages.

Fig. 3

Fake Mummy Undergoing “TAC” restoration © Musei Vaticani

The way these forgeries were crafted has been at least as much of a mystery as the riddle of true ancient Mummies. The conference on January 22, 2015 not only revealed strides in how to identify fakes, but also sparked discussion on the merit of these forgeries as works of historical record and even pieces of genuine 19th century artistic ingenuity.

“The Mummy Project” is an ongoing one at the Vatican which boasts a truly impressive collection of genuine mummies some of which have had the benefit of restoration due to our generous patrons.

For more on the Mummy Mania conference:

For more on becoming a Vatican Museums Patron

Photo of Child Mummy Before Restoration © Vatican Museums

Photo of Child Mummy Before Restoration © Vatican Museums

Fake Mummy, Inv. 5783 © Musei Vaticani

Fake Mummy, Inv. 5783, before restoration © Musei Vaticani

Father Mark Leads a Presentation in Philadelphia, December 1st

On Monday December 1st, at 6:30 pm, the Philadelphia Chapter of the Patrons will welcome our own Fr. Mark Haydu to lead a presentation and join in a reception in his honor. This event will take place at the historic Union League Club, 140 South Broad Street, Philadelphia.

In his discussion, Fr. Mark will talk about the importance of Vatican patrons in supporting restoration and conservation of the artistic and historic treasures in the Vatican Museums. Also, he will present a lecture that delves into the stirring content of his newest book “Meditations on Vatican Art: Angels.” This latest addition to Father Mark’s award-winning series is illustrated with stunning images of masterpieces from the Vatican Museums, and traces the powerful role of angels in Scripture, sacred art, and our lives. Signed copies of the book will be available at the event.

Here is a link to a flyer that has more information on the event – December 1st program

To learn more or to RSVP contact: Susan Cannon at:

FATHER MARK’S BOOK TOUR: This visit to Philadelphia is one stop on Fr. Mark’s month long book tour. Make sure to join our facebook page {} to receive updates and information regarding where he will be going next.

The Sistine Chapel Twenty Years Later: New Breath, New Light

A two day conference marking the 20thanniversary of the restoration of Michelangelo’s frescos in the Sistine Chapel opened on Thursday October 30th in Rome.


With the new lights and proposed new air conditioning system, the Sistine Chapel is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.  Now 450 years after the death of Michelangelo and 20 after the conclusion of the famous restoration in 1994, the Vatican Museums honor this double anniversary with a symposium.

The long-awaited event, will consist of two days of intense work and studies of the health of Michelangelo’s frescoes and their future conservation. Registration for the conference is closed – but surely we will learn a great deal from the symposium to share with our Patrons.

The conference began at 10 AM  when his Eminence Cardinal Bertello greeted all participants. This was followed by a talk led by Vatican Museums Director Antonio Paolucci.

Friend of the Patrons, Dr. Arnold Nesselrath,  Managing Director for the Science Departments and the Laboratories of the Vatican Museums will also present on “The Reason to Restore” and “How do we Illuminate Michelangelo?: The Philosophy of the Project.”

We’re excited about the coming together of all these innovative minds in the world of restoration as well as the focus on the Sistine Chapel. More images and insights to come… Check out this link to the Vatican Museums website for more information.

Conference on Sistine Chapel Lighting



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APLAR 5 Conference: Lasers and Art Restoration

Brochure from APLAR event giving details on the technology being used.The APLAR  5 Conference, which occurred September 18-20th, demonstrated  the further  role advanced lasers can play in the world of art restoration. Special thanks to our California, D.C., and Florida Chapters for their help in securing laser technology for the Vatican that is the envy of the museum community.  For more on the conference or to apply for abstracts see their website here.

See the full brochure here.

Watch Dr. Tim Gray’s Webinar on Art, Aesthetics and Religion, Online Now


Welcome to Dr. Tim Gray’s Lecture: Altar of the Aesthetic

Why does the Catholic Church take such an interest in the arts? How do the spiritual and material worlds mix in the creation of beauty? Did you miss Dr. Tim Gray’s compelling Webinar on Art, Aesthetics, and Religion? If so, don’t fret – for just a few more days, you can watch it at this link: Thank you to our Colorado Patrons for organizing this event!

Arizona Chapter Launch

Arizona Launches a brand new Patron Chapter! Those in Arizona have an exciting  opportunity to become a charter member of the newly formed state chapter. Are you interested or know someone who might be? They are hosting a special event for those who want to know more on Friday, October 10 at 7:00 pm at the Diocesan Pastoral Center – 400 E. Monroe St. in Phoenix.

If you have any questions, contact the Chapter Leader, Bradford Kidd. In the newly released interview,  he tells Phoenix Catholic Media about the new AZ Chapter of the Patrons Office of the Vatican Museums. See the full interview here!

To RSVP to the launch event, click on the following link:

See our Facebook Event Page: