New Display for the Vestments of Pope Clement VIII


The location of this room in the Vatican Museums is one of great importance, in fact the Room of the Tributes to Pius IX is located right outside the Sistine Chapel and thousands of people walk through this space after seeing the amazing spectacle of Michelangelo’s frescoes.

The Room of the Tributes to Pius IX was originally created in 1877 to house the gifts sent to Pope Pius IX (born Ippolito Aldobrandini: 24 February 1536 – 3 March 1605) by the faithful throughout the world. The ceiling is decorated with the coat  of  arms  of  Pope Mastai-Ferretti  ( 1846- 1878).

The display cases of this room are indeed old and not suitable for correct contemporary exhibition; there are selections of Byzantine fabrics and liturgical vestments of the 17th and 18th century. On the north wall, silk fragments of Syrian (Byzantine) manufacture from the Chapel of the Sancta Sanctorum (Saint John in Lateran – Holy Stairs) , depicting the Annunciation, the Nativity, Samson wrestling with the Lion, Scene of a Lion hunt, and Lions confronting each other (8th – 9th cent.) and on the east and south walls, the altar frontal and pluvial of the Vestments of Clement VIII ( 1592-1605), embroidered by Guasparri di Bartolomeo Papini and based on a cartoon by Alessandro Allori (1593-97). Of particular interest are the four doors of this room with original inlays by Giovanni Barili and Fra Giovanni da Verona (c. 1520); they were originally shutters of large windows in Raphael’s Logge and were transferred here in 1853-54.

The new display cases will especially allow a better exposition of the collection of the Vestments of Pope Clement VIII and of the Sancta Sanctorum relics. The collection of Pope Clement consists of one pivial, one frontal altar, one pianeta, two dalmatics, three handpieces, two stoles, and one case for the chalice.

Ippolito Aldobrandini was made Cardinal-Priest of S. Pancrazio in 1585 by Pope Gregory XIII (the Pope who commissioned the Gallery of Geographical Maps and the Tower of the Wind in the Vatican Museums) . Pope Sixtus V named him Major Penitentiary in January of 1586 and in 1588 sent him to serve as legate in Poland. There, he placed himself under the direction of the reformer Philip Neri, who for thirty years was his confessor. Aldobrandini won the gratitude of the Habsburgs through his successful diplomatic efforts in Poland to obtain the release of the imprisoned Archduke Maximilian, the defeated claimant to the Polish throne.

After the death of Pope Innocent IX (1591), another stormy conclave ensued, where a determined minority of Italian Cardinals were unwilling to be dictated to by Philip II of Spain. Cardinal Aldobrandini’s election on the 30th of January 1592, was received as an indication of a more balanced and liberal Papal policy in European affairs. He took the non-politicized name Clement VIII. He proved to be an able Pope, with an unlimited capacity for work and a lawyer’s eye for detail; he was also a wise statesman, the general object of whose policy was to free the Papacy from its dependence upon Spain.

Pope Clemet VIII was a very important pope. The most remarkable event of Clement VIII’s reign was the reconciliation to the Church of Henry IV of France (1589–1610), after long negotiations, carried on with great dexterity through Cardinal Arnaud d’Ossat, that resolved the complicated situation in France. Henry embraced Catholicism on 25 July 1593. After a pause to assess Henry IV’s sincerity, Clement VIII braved Spanish displeasure, and in the autumn of 1595 he solemnly absolved Henry IV, thus putting an end to the religious Thirty Years War in France.

Clement VIII died on March 3rd of 1605 at 5 am. He was buried in the Pauline Chapel of the patriarchal basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. He left behind a good reputation marked by his prudence, generosity, and ability in business. His papacy was also noted for the beauty and totality of the medals minted during his service.


The renewal of the display cases of the Room of Pius IX will allow a better layout of the vestments of Clement VIII, which are real treasures for our collection. Curved, anti-reflex glasses will improve the view of the pieces. The inside will be climate controlled to preserve the fabrics and the entire stage will be completed in marble, the wall will be restored and repainted. One area will have on display the vestments and a second area will have the silk fragments of the Sancta Sanctorum on display. The large display case will be provided with a tight door. The entire area will be provided with stylized supports, which will allow a roped exhibition of the pieces (altar and dummies). Also, some benches for visitors will be placed in front of the display case.

Costs of materials: mounting, glasses, special glasses, climate control, structure of the display, tight door, stage, mirrors, marble floor, background, cover, steps, stylized altar, dummies, graphics and explanations, benches:  € 165.000,00

Costs of the project, architectural designs, direction of the works: € 26.750,00