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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Texas Chapter Visits Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Vatican Gardens

On the Northwest border of Vatican City lies a proposed section for the Gardens restoration project. Like the the Grotto of Lourdes section, this area is located atop Vatican Hill and is a spectacular vantage point for catching a panoramic view of Rome. It is for this lovely place  that the Texas chapter of Patrons has generously donated so that the section of Gardens can be well preserved.  This past week, when they were in town, members of the Texas Chapter visited the site to see first-hand the impact that their contributions are having on the serene and spiritual place.

One of the most special pieces in this section is a statue that gives the area its  namesake – donated by Mexico to Pope Pius XII in 1939,  depicting moment that the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe was miraculously revealed in Mexico City in the year 1531. In the statue, native Juan Diego stands in surprise as he gazes upon his Tilma (or peasant cloak) upon which the sacred image of the Virgin appeared.  The Franciscan Bishop, Juan de Zumaraga also kneels in surprise before her,  a witness to the miracle of the beautiful, sacred image.

The Vatican grounds represent one of the finest gardens in the world.  Formed on hallowed ground and cultivated with faith and hope, the growth here is sacred and symbolic of greater spiritual meaning. Many popes have prayed surrounded by this shrine of greenery. Pope John XXIII often reflected in the gardens as he prepared to lead the church through the Second Vatican Council. John Paul II often invited young people to pray the rosary with him at the Lourdes shrine atop the Vatican Gardens. Pope Benedict XVI was also known to pray his rosary here.


Although many of the degradation problems of the works were similar, there were different levels of deterioration due to specific factors of corrosion relating to placement (major or minor exposure to sunlight and rainfall), constituent materials, and the presence of previous restorations and/or the reassembly of fragments or parts of the works. Today, thanks to the Texas Chapter these problems are being overcome by restorers. As they were able to witness on their visit – we’ve been able to preserve and restore this majestic statue and the glorious landscape that surrounds it.

The Texas Chapter was able to contribute so much to this effort, but there is still a great need when it comes to our gardens. It’s so important to maintain this holy place and meditative space so that it continues to inspire visitors and holy contemplation. If you are considering donating to one of our projects please think about adopting part of the garden. It is a truly worthy project.

See this link for more information on how to be a part of this effort:



Our Texas Chapter VIisiting the Gardens

Our Texas Chapter VIisiting the Gardens


guadalupe statue

Gardens Entrance


The Vatican Gardens: Restoring the Apollo

You never know where helpful hints will come from in the world of restoration.  When Mr. and Mrs. Hazelwood of Tennessee dropped by to check out the work that’s being performed on the Apollo section of the Vatican Gardens they’ve adopted in honor the memory of their daughter and niece, they were able to talk to the restorers about the new techniques they are using to keep the statuary clear of moss and other biological material that affects the stone masterpieces. The restoration of this section is part of a pilot project that will flower into a strategy of conservation for all the statuary in the gardens.

As one aspect of this, restorers just began testing a new restoration technique adopted from the invention of a farmer in Iowa. And it was a Patron that suggested it! The homeopathic agent, an American product known as “Moss Buster”, is cleaner and less abrasive than the biocides that restorers used in the past to clean the outdoor statues.  Also it is more effective – with the cleaning lasting much longer than ever before. Previously, even with modern chemicals, staining moss would return in just a couple months. The Moss Buster kills what is on the surface and restorers then perform a further removal with a gel product that is spread over the surface. When the gel hardens, they peel it off leaving a clean statuary underneath.   Director of the Vatican Museums Restoration Laboratory for Stone, Guy Devreux, calls Moss Buster  “a huge help in the atmosphere in the gardens.” After the peel, restorers have begun applying essential oil of oregano, a final protective measure that keeps the statue clean and prevents it from yellowing. A chemical peel and essential oil rub-down? Sounds like a nice day at the spa.

Thanks to our patrons, an Iowa farmer, and Moss Buster, our statues are restored to their natural beauty and can be more easily maintained. The Hazelwoods were so glad to hear that their patronage went toward this important innovation in outdoor restoration and so are we! It means that supporting the gardens is even easier and donations go further. Adopting a section of the gardens is a particularly rewarding experience as it connects the natural and man made worlds with the history and spirituality of the Vatican.  It is rewarding to see the continual growth and beauty in that counterbalance. Something truly delightful to share with all our visitors.

This Wednesday, Director of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci visited the gardens to oversee the progress and talk to restorers and curators.  He was amazed at the results of the restoration and was happily surprised to hear that the Patrons were critical in revealing a new technique. The collaboration of the Patrons in restoration always uncovers surprises!

If you would like to adopt part of the Vatican Gardens see our WISHBOOK 2015 Projects online, here:

Our Patrons from Tennessee, the Hazelwoods, with restorers in front of their adopted "Apollo" Section.

Our Patrons from Tennessee, the Hazelwoods, with restorers in front of their adopted “Apollo” Section.

Detail of Restoration Work

Detail of Restoration Work


Guy Devreaux the Director of the Vatican Museums Restoration Lab for Stone Artifacts and Father Mark Haydu with our IL Patrons during their Chapter Visit

Guy Devreaux the Director of the Vatican Museums Restoration Lab for Stone Artifacts and Father Mark Haydu with our IL Patrons during their Chapter Visit

Restorer with the Apollo Statue

Restorer with the Apollo Statue

Director of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci, Visiting the Project

Director of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci, Visiting the Project


Ohio Chapter’s Restoration of the First Popemobile

Traditionally, when a pope wanted to travel, he was carried in the sedia gestaoria: a chair carried on the shoulders of a number of papal attendants. Transportation at the time was such that the Pope rarely could leave the hallowed halls of Vatican City. However, in the  mechanized age, Papal transportation began to be more modernized. in 1930, during the priestly jubilee of Pius XI (1922-1939) a special automobile arrived. Pius XI’s actually received a few cars, but possibly the most remarkable was a Graham Paige limousine given to him by the Graham brothers from America (members of the Knights of Columbus – he also had a prestigious Citroën “Lictoria” made in Milan, and a Nurburg style Mercedes Benz).

The limousine was presented in the Vatican on November 9, 1929. Carriage-work was made by the famous American coachbuilder, LeBaron and the sumtuous upholstery was in silk of Havana brown and silver, with the metal accents in gold. Recently, due to the efforts of the Ohio Chapter, the car was restored and now resides in the Vatican Carriage Museum. It remains one of the most fascinating exhibits there.

Today, when we picture the Popemobile, it’s the Mercedes with the bulletproof glass.  Since an assassination attempt on then-Pope John Paul II in 1981, the head of the Roman Catholic Church has customarily used the custom-made glass-sided Popemobile when in public. But Pope Francis told a Spanish newspaper that he prefers not to use a bulletproof Popemobile despite the dangers of an assassination attempt because it walls him off from people.

Link to Pope Francis’s Popemobile interview

“It’s true that anything could happen, but let’s face it, at my age I don’t have much to lose,” he told Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia in an interview published Friday and reported on in English by Vatican Radio. “I know that something could happen to me, but it’s in the hands of God.”

Never been to the Carriage Museum? That’s because it’s been a bit difficult to find inside the Vatican – and that’s a shame, because it houses some wonderful pieces. Help us bring more traffic to the Carriage Pavilion – with your help we can create a new modern entrance that attracts visitors and befits the grandeur of the exhibits – be a Popemobile patron!

See the classic car (and much more) at the Carriage Museum. It’s not to be missed.

Dr. Sandro Barbagallo, Assistant Director of the Vatican Museums, with the Graham Paige Limo.

Dr. Sandro Barbagallo, Assistant Director of the Vatican Museums, with the Graham Paige Limo.

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Proposed plans for the new Carriages Museum Entrance in our 2015 WISHBOOK.

Proposed plans for the new Carriages Museum Entrance in our 2015 WISHBOOK.

Illinois Patrons during their Chapter Visit in the Carriage Museum with Vatican Museums Director Antonio Paolucci

Illinois Patrons during their Chapter Visit in the Carriage Museum with Vatican Museums Director Antonio Paolucci

WISHBOOK 2015 Has Arrived

Our 2015 Wishbook documents all of the projects that our restoration staff and museums experts have identified as being in the most urgent need of funding. There are many new and exciting projects to adopt. Help us restore and preserve history. You can view specific projects at our Restoration Needs section.

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Illinois Chapter Visits the Holy Stairs

Patrons from Illinois experienced the renovations at Chapel San Lorenzo and the Holy Stairs first hand with restorer Dr. Mary Angela. They were given a real treat, able to climb the scaffold and witness the restoration efforts up close. We thank all of our patrons for engaging in this important initiative and helping us preserve this important Catholic landmark.


Mary Angela with the Illinois patrons.




Stories of the Missions of the Church: Journey in China by Lord McCartney

Inventory Number: 23780

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This volume is an account of the trip of the English ambassador Lord Macartney who, appointed by King George III, traveled to the Chinese imperial court of Emperor Qian Long as well as countries of the tartars. This is the first Italian translation published in Venice and is followed by a second edition in Florence.

The voyage (1792-94) had a primarily commercial objective, but it did not have a positive outcome. The Chinese emperor considered the economic conditions proposed by the English inappropriate, and the British delegates sparked a series of diplomatic “incidents” when they refused to perform the kou tou (beating the forehead against the earth numerous times as a sign of prostration in front of the emperor).

In his response letter to George III, the Chinese emperor, “sovereign of the most expansive realm on earth, self-sufficient and not a subject of the west,” maintained an arrogant tone that completely precluded any possibility of agreements. “Were I obliged to carry the entire world, I would select just one goal: maintain an ideal government and compete the duties of my rank.  Unknown and expensive objects do not interest me. If I gave orders for the gifts offered by you as a sign of homage to be accepted, this was only with consideration to the spirit with which you sent them from so far away. As your ambassador can notice of a person, we here have all kinds of products. I do not recognize the value of strange and clever objects, and I do not see any reason for the use of products of your industry.”

Sir George Leonard Staunton (April 10, 1737- January 14, 1801), a botanist, was employed by the East India Company. He served as secretary during the mission to the Chinese imperial court and was entrusted with the first draft of the final report. The document material was comprised of the memories of Lord Maccauley and of Sir Erasmus Gower, who were placed at the head of the expedition. The illustrations were completed by Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society.


Stories of the Missions of the Church: Missions of Father Paolo Segneri

Inventory Number: 51769



Paolo Segneri studied at the Collegio Romano, and in 1637 he entered into the Compagnia di Gesù, despite his father’s opposition. Among his professors was Pietro Sforza Pallavicino. Ordained a priest in 1653, he shaped himself on Scriptures and on the Fathers of the Church, as well as on Cicero,  whose refined eloquence of prose he wished to acquire. As a professor of grammar at Pistoia, he volunteered to serve in the missions but, remained in Italy. He preached in  major catherdrals and also in simpler parishes during later years (1665 to 1692). Cardinal Antonio Pignatelli, the future Pope Innocent XII, appreciated his Quaresimale , and he called Segneri to the Papal Court where he named him theologist of the Penitenziaria. The biographer, Massei, affirms that the pope and the entire court admired Prediche dette nel palazzo apostolico.


Stories of the Missions of the Church: Vestments & Traditions of the Greeks

Inventory number: 24309


Otto von Stackelberg (Reval, Tallinn, July 25, 1786- Riga March 27, 1837), artist and archaeologist. Born in Estonia to Otto Christian Engelbrecht von Stackelberg and Anna Gertruda Düker, he was left fatherless at age 6 when his father, colonel of the Russian Imperial Army, died in 1792. Given his predisposition for art, his mother entrusted him to the painter Tedesco Reus, who became his private tutor. Headed towards a career in diplomacy, he started his studies at the Università di Göttingen in 1803. However, a trip he took with his brothers to Switzerland within the same year caused him to radically change his professional prospective. In Zurich, he admired to works of Johann Caspar Lavater and Salomon Geßner, and he met Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. From there, he proceeded on to Italy with his brother Karl in 1804.


Once again in Italy in 1809 together with Ernst Heinrich Tölken and Jean Paul, he formed a friendship with the archaeologist Carl Haller von Hallerstein, the Danes Peter Oluf Brondsted, Georg Koës, and Jakob Linckh, as well as with George Christian Gropius who was, at the time, Austrian consul in Greece. The two Danish archaeologists convinced Stackelberg to accompany them to Greece. The intent was not purely academic. On the side was the commercial project to publish a volume that Stackelberg was designated to illustrate. In Greece, Stackelberg and his colleagues would also have a way to export and sell materials discovered in the excavations they conducted, including Egina, Bassae, and Aeaco. In 1816, a new voyage to Italy led him to search for medieval antiquities. In Rome he was among the cofounders of the Germanic Archaological Institute, making up, together with Eduard Gerhard, August Kestner and Theodor Panofka, the group Iperborei (Römischen Hyperboraeer).

In 1826 Stackelberg’s treatise on the temple of Apollo at Bassae (Der Apollotempel zu Bassae in Arcadien und die daselbst ausgegrabenen Bildwerke) was published. He continued to travel assiduously in Greece, Turkey, and Italy. In Etruria, he conducted archaelogical surveys that, in 1827, led to the discovery of the temple and subterranean tomb at Corneto, close to Tarquinia.


Stories of the Missions of the Church: Costumes Civils, Militaires, e Religieux du Mexique

Inventory Number: 24208



Claudio Linati was born in Parma on February 1, 1790 to Count Filippo and Emanuella of the Cogorani Counts, who died during childbirth. G. Caderini, a law student, who for many years lived in the Linati household, played an influential role in Linati’s education: it was he who instilled patriotic and liberal sentiments in the young Linati. Linati, from his youth, cultivated his artistic talents: in 1808 he entered the Parmese Society of engravers in watercolor (la “Société des graveurs au lavis”), founded the previous year by P. Toschi, A. Isac, T. Gasparotti, and V. Raggio. When he followed his father, legislative body deputy for the Department of Taro, to Paris in the beginning of 1809, he met artists such as J.-L. David, under whose tutelage he remained for some time. After 1814, he joined his father in Barcelona, and in February of the following year he married Spaniard Isabella Bacardì, with whom he had five children.

With the move of the family to Parma around 1818-1819 , he became close to local underground sects and became an activist of the revolutionary program in the Duchies of Modena and Parma. During the uprisings of 1820 he was arrested and then exiled. Between 1822 and 1823, he dedicated himself to the cause of the Spanish constitutionalists against the realists and the French campaign body. Arrested and condemned to death with his goods and property confiscated by the Spanish government, he finally found refuge in Holland. He also resided in Brussels for a period of time, working as a writer and translator.

In September of 1825, he departed for Mexico where he obtained citizenship, opened the first litographic laboratory of the country and an important school of design. Together with his friend, F. Galli, who had preceded him, and the profuse Cuban poet José María de Heredia y Campuzano, Linati founded the first literary review of the newly-independent country on February 4, 1826. The publication El Iris, “periódico crítico y literario” , was meant to entertain the public, particularly the female audience, with a politically-educative end goal. For this, he was soon opposed by other newspapers, including El Aguila and El Sol, and Linati risked expulsion. In September of 1826, Linati left for Europe; after brief stops in New York, London, and Antwerp, he arrived in Holland in March of the following year. In 1828 he published a work in segments that became rare and highly-valued (Costumes civiles, militaires et religieux du Mexique). This book featured colored illustrations and drawings equipped with informative notes, and it was welcomed with great interest and favorably reviewed by the Gazette des Pays-Bas. He collaborated for a long time with the review L’Industriel. Between 1830 and 1831, he continued to be active in the struggle for the liberty of Spain and Italy. In 1832, he left for Mexico once more. Disembarking in the port of Tampico, he died on December 11, 1832 after a “brief and painful illness” (perhaps yellow fever), as the local newspaper obituary mentioned the next day.