|The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, painted by Raphael. Photo © Vatican Museums|
September 14, 2010. London, England. This past weekend, the Patrons
of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, a Vatican office
directed by Legionary Father Mark Haydu, LC, hosted a weekend
of events in London to celebrate the opening of a
special artistic exhibition in preparation for the Holy Father’s upcoming
visit to the UK.
The Vatican Museums collaborated with London’s
V&A Museum to bring together—for the very first time—the Raphael
Cartoons and Tapestries, a spectacle that the artist himself never
About the Cartoons and Tapestries
The Raphael Cartoons, painted by
Raphael and his assistants, are full-scale designs for tapestries that
were meant to cover the lower walls of the Sistine
Chapel. Commissioned by Pope Leo X in 1515, they depict
the Acts of St Peter and St Paul.
and 1521, the compositions were woven into tapestries at the
workshop of Pieter van Aelst in Brussels, the main centre
for tapestry production in Europe. In 1623 the cartoons were
brought to England by the Prince of Wales, later Charles
I, and have been on loan from the Royal Collection
to the V&A since 1865.
the Grand Opening of this special exhibition, a transatlantic mix
of Patrons gathered in London, where a welcome reception kicked
off the events. The following morning, they gathered at Westminster
Cathedral for Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent
Nichols. Afterwards, the Patrons received a private tour of the
Cathedral and its crypt.
Later Sunday evening, a
cocktail was held at the private former home of Sir
Thomas Moore, which is now called Crosby Hall, a grand
location with spectacular gardens and ceilings, and several tapestries adorning
the walls. In the Great Room of Crosby Hall, the
Curator of the Byzantine, Medieval & Renaissance Departments of the
Vatican Museums, Dr. Arnold Nesselrath, gave an insightful talk on
the Raphael Tapestries. The small guest list included four members
of the British Parliament and former Prime Minister and his
wife, Tony and Cherie Blair.
|A group of the Patrons pose with the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, and with Fr Mark Haydu, LC (second from right).|
The morning of
the Grand Opening began at the National Gallery. Before the
museum was open to the public, the leading curators and
art historians from the museum greeted the Patrons and took
them on tours in small groups, where they had the
chance to hear the history of the piece directly from
the person who oversees the work’s care.
crown jewel of the weekend was the Grand Opening of
the Raphael Tapestry Exhibition at the V&A. The museum, illuminated
in bold colors, was like a work of art in
itself, and people gathered from around the globe for the
inauguration. After a few short speeches and a brief musical
interlude by some members of the National Choir, the exhibition
was officially unveiled.
For those who would like
to visit the exhibit, entrance is FREE, thanks to the
generosity of one of the Patrons of the Arts in
the Vatican Museums. The exhibit will be on display from
September 8 to October 17.
For more information, go to
Let us also keep the Holy Father´s upcoming visit
to the UK in our prayers.