California Patrons Fund the Mass Spectrometer

When works of art are brought to the labs, there is not only the opportunity to restore them, but it is also possible to discover more about their history and construction. One piece of equipment that is especially helpful in this regard is the Mass Spectrometer. This technology allows for researchers to discover the origins of the art, including where the marble was quarried for statues and if multiple paintings were completed by the same workshop. As of this past week, the Vatican Museums is now in possession of their own Mass Spectrometer, thanks to the generosity of the California Chapter.

The Scientific Research Laboratory is already using the instrument, so that they can answer questions about some of the most important works in the Vatican’s collection. The Mass Spectrometer is so precise, it can actually identify all the elements of the periodic table! How this works is that each chemical element has a trace on it that the machine can identify, similar to the way we use fingerprints. This technology will not only help with quarried marble, as mentioned above, but also elements such as gold and iron, making it very beneficial to the Metal and Ceramics Lab. Even more importantly, the restorers will now have a better idea of the time period in which objects were created. This will help when assessing whether or not a fragment is authentic, or something was an addition in a later period.

Here in the Museums and in the Labs we are grateful to the California Chapter for their generous sponsorship of the Mass Spectrometer. This scientific machine will only help the restoration teams with their work, but it will also be beneficial in the discovery of historical details. We hope you are all as excited as we are about the work this machine can enable!

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The Nativity Domenico Bigordi, called Ghirlandaio 1492 . Preview of Day  8's Meditations

The Nativity Domenico Bigordi, called Ghirlandaio 1492. Preview of Day 8’s Meditations

In his new book, Fr. Mark Haydu traces the role of angels in both Scripture and sacred art throughout the ages. Meditations on Vatican Art: Angels, like his award-winning first book, offers beautiful artwork, richly depicting angels in biblical scenes ranging from serene to dramatic. These works are united with meditations that examine the art through the lens of Scripture, allowing deeper, more meaningful contemplation of God’s love. Readers will enjoy the art reproduced on the 216 pages of this 10 in. x 10 in. hardbound book and can also use it for prayer, group or individual studies and retreats, or any time they are in need of inspiration or assurance that God did indeed send his angels to guard and lead us to  him.

See sample pages from his lovely book and learn more about what art says in the language of the angels. The chapters include beautifully rendered artworks as well as guidance for prayer and reflection. See the preview here.

Here’s a full listing for the stops on Fr. Mark’s 2014 Book Tour of the US along which he leading presentations and book signings of his newest publication: Meditations on Vatican Art: Angels

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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.

Focus on the Augustus of Prima Porta

On the occasion of two-thousandth anniversary of the death of the first emperor of Rome, the marble masterpiece Augustus of Prima Porta returns to the Vatican Museums following its great public success in exhibitions in Rome and Paris.

Found in the villa of Livia in Prima Porta, the statue is a portrait of Augustus as a handsome and young ruler, wearing a decorated cuirass and a tunic, with the figure of Cupid riding a dolphin on his side.

Look closely, though, and you’ll notice something curious: the Emperor has no boots. Art historians debate the significance of this, however, appearing barefoot was an attribute of divinity in art of the ancient world. Though likely based on a bronze statue created during Augustus’ reign, according to many scholars, the Prima Porta must be posthumous, since the Roman Senate deified Augustus a month after his death two thousand years ago in AD 14.

In other words, the Prima Porta Augustus, (named after the villa where it was found, which once belonged to his widow, the Empress Livia), is not simply a portrait of Rome’s first emperor – it is also a vision of a god.

You can admire the statue at the Vatican Museum at the entrance of the Gregorian Profane Museum. Special thanks to the Florida Chapter of patrons who helped us restore this iconic statue as one of their first projects.

If you want to be involved as a patron in your local chapter and participate in important projects like the one that restored the Augustus, contact your local chapter leader.


The Augustus of Prima Porta is based on the Doryphorus, a famous antique statue by Polykleitos portraying the ideal human proportions of an Athenian athlete.

The Augustus of Prima Porta is based on the Doryphorus, a famous antique statue by Polykleitos portraying the ideal human proportions of an Athenian athlete.

Tiberius made a significant addition to his marble copy: on the chest plate, he added scenes depicting the Roman victory over the Parthians.

Tiberius made a significant addition to his marble copy: on the chest plate, he added scenes depicting the Roman victory over the Parthians.


Augustus wanted to portray himself as a perfect leader with flawless features, personifying the power and authority of the emperor.