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Art that comforts
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Vatican Museum: Beauty that unites! 27

Beauty creates communion. It unites onlookers from a distance, uniting past, present and future. Pope Francis has recalled this on a number of occasions. The Church has always translated the universality of the Good News into the language of art. From this premise, this dramatic moment in history characterized by uncertainty and isolation, gives rise to this initiative which is a partnership between the Vatican Museum and Vatican News: Masterpieces from the Vatican Collection accompanied by comments from the words of the Popes.

Fra Angelico, detail of St Mark the Evangelist from the ceiling of the Niccoline Chapel, Vatican Palace © Musei Vaticani

© Musei Vaticani
© Musei Vaticani

Mysteriously united to Christ,
the one who suffers with love
and meek self-abandonment
to the will of God becomes
a living offering for the
salvation of the world.

(Benedict XVI, 16th World Day of Sick 2008)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 26

Giovanni Battista Salvi known as the Sassoferrato; Madonna with Child (Immaculate Virgin with the Rosary); oil on canvas; c. 1650; Vatican Museum, Art Gallery; © Musei Vaticani

© Musei Vaticani
© Musei Vaticani

Blessed Virgin, Mother of God and our Mother,
who under the title “Madonna who helps”
never cease to remind your devoted children
of the prodigies by which you secure for us
your maternal protection, look mercifully upon
our necessities and on our misery, and come
once again to our aid. By your help, O Mary,
the poor wait for bread; the sick, health;
the unemployed, work; everyone awaits salvation
from new calamities and destruction.
But the good that this generation
begs of you above all is Your Son,
O Mary, whom the world would want
to banish from life, from the family,
from society, where everyone awaits
material aid by the strength and
designs of human beings.
Help us, O Mary, to jealously conserve
and rediscover this good,
without which every other gift is an illusion,
anguish and poison.

(Pius XII, Prayer to the Madonna who helps, 1 November 1954)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 25

Slavic-macedonian; Icon of the Twelve Feasts (Dodekaorton); tempera on walnut; XVI century (?); Vatican Museum, Art Gallery © Musei Vaticani

© Musei Vaticani
© Musei Vaticani

It is because of Christ’s Resurrection
that the Gospel spread throughout the world,
sustaining the impact of the forces of evil,
overcoming difficulties of every nature.
Christ Jesus passed beyond Calvary:
there He died, but He also rose.
With these eyes, the Christian observes
human events: suffering and death,
calamity and misery can weigh us down,
but they cannot bring our spirit down.

(John XXIII, Urbi et orbi radiomessage, 21 April 1962)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 24

Raphael, Liberation of St Peter, Room of Heliodorus. Vatican Palace, detail, © Musei Vaticani

© Musei Vaticani
© Musei Vaticani

Today, men and women need a light
that they cannot find on their own.
The light shines in the darkness,
the prologue of the Gospel of John proclaims.
We need to have the wisdom,
the courage and the joy of responding:
Deo gratias!
Thank You, O God, that in Christ’s Passover
You cast a providential light
over the dark human and cosmic landscape.

(Paul VI, Urbi et orbi message 29 March 1964)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 23

Rimini School, Crucifixion of Christ between Sts Peter and Paul and the Noli me Tangere, tempera and gold on wood, c. 1350, Vatican Museum, Art Gallery © Musei Vaticani

© Musei Vaticani
© Musei Vaticani

A dawn of hope spreads over the earth,
although it is sometimes touched
by sinister merchants of hatred,
bloodshed, and war with a darkness
which sometimes threatens to obscure the dawn. 
Only Christ could cause this dawn of a light
which will never set,
because he is the "sun of justice" (cf. Mal 4:2).
He will indeed oversee the work of all. 

(John Paul I, Urbi et orbi radiomessage, 27 August 1978)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 22

Gaetano Gandolfi, The Triumph of Faith, c. 1774, Vaticum Museum, Art Gallery ©Musei Vaticani

© Musei Vaticani
© Musei Vaticani

There is no duty which Christ
and His Apostles more emphatically urged
by both precept and example
than that of prayer and supplication
to Almighty God.
The Fathers and Doctors
in subsequent times have taught
that this is a matter of such grave necessity,
that if men neglect it they hope in vain
for eternal salvation.
Prayer derives its chief efficacy
from two principal circumstances:
perseverance, and the union
of many for one end.

(Leo XIII, Encyclical Fidentem Piumque Animum, 1896) 

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 21

Giovan Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino, 1591-1666);  The unbelief of St Thomas; oil on canvas; Vatican Museum, Art Gallery, © Musei Vaticani

©Musei Vaticani
©Musei Vaticani

There is something of the Apostle Thomas
in every human being.
Each one is tempted
by unbelief and each one
asks the basic questions:
Is it true that God exists?
Is it true that he created the world?
Is it true that the Son of God became man,
died and rose from the dead?
The answer comes as the person
experiences God’s presence.
We have to open our eyes
and our heart to the
light of the Holy Spirit.
Then the open wounds
of the Risen Christ
will speak to each of us:
“Because you have seen me,
you have believed:
blessed are those
who have not seen and yet believe.

 (John Paul II, Vigil at Tor Vergata, 15th World Youth Day, 19 August 2000)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 20

Bernardino di Betto, known as Pinturicchio; Madonna with Child, known as “Our Lady of the Sill”; fresco, detached and remounted on cadorite; c. 1490; Vatican Museum, Art Gallery, © Musei Vaticani

©Musei Vaticani
©Musei Vaticani

We are certain that each one of us
is precious in your eyes
and that nothing in our hearts
has estranged you.
Would that we allow your sweet gaze
to reach us
and the perpetual warmth
of your smile.
Guard our life with your embrace:
bless and strengthen
every desire for good;
give new life and
nourishment to faith;
sustain and enlighten hope;
awaken and animate charity;
guide us all on the path to holiness.

(Pope Francis, Act of entrustment to Mary, Virgin of Fatima, 13 October 2013)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 19

Trophime Bigot, Saint Sebastian Healed by Irene, 1620 – 1634, Vatican Museum, Art Gallery Vaticana, © Musei Vaticani

©Musei Vaticani
©Musei Vaticani

I must say a word also
to our dear sick,
whom I see there.
You know, Jesus said:
“I hide behind them;
what is done for them
is done for me.”
So we venerate
the Lord himself
in their persons
and we hope
that the Lord will be
close to them,
and help and sustain them.

(John Paul I, General Audience, 13 September 1978)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 18

Simone Martini, The Redeemer conferring a blessing, 1315 – 1320, upper portion of a polyptych, Tempera on wood, 38.3 x 28.5 cm; Vatican Museum, Art Gallery © Musei Vaticani

©Musei Vaticani
©Musei Vaticani

Human pain, lived in the faith
and love of Christ
helps us to understand -
at the level of physical realities
and supernatural certainties -
what the redemptive passion
of the Lord means
in concrete terms:
how much it cost Him as Head
and how much it costs
His Mystical Body.
It is a continuous,
indeed perennial,
demonstration of the
inseparable link that,
due to the effect of
divine love,
exists between
Sacrifice and Redemption,
between
Immolation and Salvation.

(Paul VI, Message for the World Day of the Sick, 1975) 

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 17

Marco dal Pino, Christ in Glory; 1566-1571; Vatican Museum, Art Gallery, © Musei Vaticani

©Musei Vaticani
©Musei Vaticani

How does the Lord comfort?
Tenderly.
Tenderness is a language
unknown to the prophets of doom. 
“Behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense goes before him”,
as the passage of Isaiah concludes.
“Like a shepherd he feeds his flock:
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom,
leading the ewes with care”.
This is the way, the Lord consoles:
tenderly.
Tenderness consoles.
When a baby cries,
mothers caress and
calm them down
with tenderness:
a word that today’s world,
has, in fact,
removed from the dictionary.
Tenderness.

(Pope Francis, Homily, 11 December 2018)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 16

Cenni di Francesco. Stories of Mary Magdalene: "Do not touch me", predella compartment ©Musei Vaticani

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©Musei Vaticani

Each of us is poor, needy and destitute.
When we are born,
we require the care
of our parents to survive,
and at every stage of life
we remain in some way
dependent on the help of others.
Also, this is a condition
that characterizes
our being “creatures”.
We should not be afraid
to regard ourselves
as needy or reliant on others,
because God himself,
in Jesus,
has humbly stooped down to us
(cf. Phil 2:8) and continues to do so;
in our poverty,
he comes to our aid
and grants us gifts
beyond our imagining.

 (Pope Francis, message for the 27th World day of the sick 2019)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 15

Melozzo da Forlì, known as Melozzo Ambrosi (1438-1494), "Ascension" (1480 ca.) detail of An Angel playing the lute; fragment of a fresco detached from the apse of the Basilica of the Holy Apostles in Rome, after 1711 it was transfered to cadorite; Vatican Museum Art Gallery © Musei Vaticani

©Musei Vaticani
©Musei Vaticani

Grant us, Lord,
to carry our cross with love,
and to carry our daily crosses
in the certainty
that they have been enlightened
by the dazzling light
of Easter.
Amen.

(Benedict XVI, Way of the Cross at the Colosseum, 2 April 2010)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 14

Pinturicchio, Resurrection, Borgia Apartments, mixed painting techniques, 1492-94, Room of Mysteries © Musei Vaticani

©Musei Vaticani
©Musei Vaticani

The resurrection of Christ
is the principle of new life
for every man and every woman,
for true renewal always begins
from the heart,
from the conscience.
Yet Easter is also the beginning
of the new world,
set free from the slavery
of sin and death:
the world open at last
to the Kingdom of God,
a Kingdom of love, peace and fraternity.
Christ is alive and he remains with us.
Risen, he shows us the light
of his face,
and he does not abandon
all those experiencing hardship,
pain and sorrow.


(Pope Francis, Urbi et orbi Message, 21 April 2019)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 13

Carlo Crivelli, (Venezia, c. 1435 - Ascoli Piceno, 1494), Pietà, Tempera on wood, 105 x 205 cm, Vatican Museum, Art Gallery © Musei Vaticani

©Musei Vaticani
©Musei Vaticani

I encourage you to contemplate
the sufferings of Christ crucified,
and, in union with him,
to turn to the Father
with complete trust that all life,
and your lives in particular,
are in his hands.
Trust that your sufferings,
united to those of Christ,
will prove fruitful for the needs
of the Church and the world.
I ask the Lord to strengthen
your faith in his love,
especially during these trials
that you are experiencing.
It is my hope that,
wherever you are,
you will always find
the spiritual encouragement
and strength needed
to nourish your faith a
nd bring you closer
to the Father of Life.

(Benedict XVI, 15th World day of Sick 2007)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 12

Alesso di Andrea, The Crucifixion and Scenes from the Passion of Christ, c. 1345, Vatican Museums, Art Gallery © Musei Vaticani

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©Musei Vaticani

The answer to the question
of the meaning of suffering
has been ‘given by God
to man in the Cross of Jesus Christ’.
Through his suffering on the Cross,
Christ has prevailed over evil
and enables us to overcome it.
Our sufferings become meaningful
and precious when united with his.
As God and man,
Christ has taken upon himself
the sufferings of humanity,
and in him human suffering
itself takes on a redemptive meaning.

(John Paul II, Message for the 10th World day of the Sick 2002)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 11

Raphael (1483-1520), Disputation of the Holy Sacrament, 1508-11, Vatican Museum, Vatican Apostolic Palace, Raphael Rooms, Room of the Signatura © Musei Vaticani

©Musei Vaticani
©Musei Vaticani

Extreme is Jesus’ love!
His sacrifice for our redemption
is represented in the Eucharist
so that the fruit of salvation
might be extended to us.
Christ’s love for us –
this is the Eucharist.
A love that gives itself,
a love that remains,
a love that communicates itself,
a love that multiplies itself,
a love that sacrifices itself,
a love that unites us,
a love that saves us.

(Paul IV, Homily for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, 28 May 1970)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 10

Caravaggio, The Deposition, altarpiece, oil on canvas, c. 1600-1604, Vatican Museums, Art Gallery © Musei Vaticani

©Musei Vaticani
©Musei Vaticani

“Our God is not a remote God,
intangible in his blessedness.
Our God has a heart.
Indeed, he has a heart of flesh;
he was made flesh
precisely to be able
to suffer with us
and to be with us
in our suffering.
He was made man
to give us a heart of flesh
and to reawaken
within us love
for the suffering,
for the destitute.”

(Benedict XVI, Way of the Cross at the Colosseum, 6 April 2007)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 9

Pietro da Cortona; Weeping over the Dead Christ; fresco, 1635; Vatican Apostolic Palace; Chapel of Urban VIII. © Musei Vaticani

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©Musei Vaticani

The incarnate Son of God
did not remove illness and suffering
from human experience
but by taking them upon himself
he transformed them
and gave them new meaning.
New meaning
because they no longer
have the last word which,
instead, is new and abundant life.


(Pope Francis, Message for the 22nd World Day of the Sick, 2014)


Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 8

School of Pietro da Rimini,  The Crucifixion,  1325-1330, Vatican Museums, Art Gallery, © Musei Vaticani

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©Musei Vaticani

Lord, you are a scandal.
You are a scandal:
the scandal of the Cross.
A Cross which is humility,
meekness;
a Cross that speaks to us
of God’s closeness.
We bless this image
of the Cross
that will travel round the country.

(Pope Francis, Prayer at the conclusion of the meeting with young people from Argentina gathered in the Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, 25 July 2013)

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Beauty that Unites 7

Pseudo Dominic of Michelino, XV cent, Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, Vatican Museums, Vatican Art Gallery  ©Musei Vaticani

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©Musei Vaticani

The Lord truly rejoiced with the people,
with those young people who shouted
out his name and acclaimed him as King and Messiah. 
Humility does not mean denying reality:
Jesus really is the Messiah, the King.
Yet at the same time the heart of Jesus
was moving on another track,
on the sacred path known to him
and the Father alone:
the path that leads from ‘the form of God’
to ‘the form of a servant’,
the path of self-abasement
born of obedience ‘unto death,
even death on a cross’.
He knows that true triumph
involves making room for God
 and that the only way to do that
is by stripping oneself, by self-emptying.
To remain silent, to pray, to accept humiliation.
There is no negotiating with the cross:
one either embraces it or rejects it.
By his self-abasement,
Jesus wanted to open up
to us the path of faith 
and to precede us on that path.

(Pope Francis, Palm Sunday Homily, 14 April 2019)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 6

Fra Angelico, Madonna and Child between Sts Dominic and Catherine of Alexandria,  c. 1435. Vatican Museums, Art Gallery ©Musei Vaticani

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©Musei Vaticani

Clement Virgin,
Mother of humanity,
turn your gaze to the men and women
of our time,
to peoples and to those
who govern them,
to nations and to continents;
comfort those who weep,
who suffer,
who struggle because of human injustice;
sustain those who waver
under the weight of effort
and who look at the future without hope;
encourage those who work
to build a better world
where justice triumphs
and brotherhood reigns,
where selfishness,
hate and violence cease.
May every form and
manifestation of violence
be conquered by the peace-making
power of Christ.

(Benedict XVI, Prayer to our Lady of Viterbo, 6 September 2009)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 5

Marco Palmezzano (1459-1539), Christ carrying the cross, oil on wood, 1535 ca., Vatican Art Gallery ©Musei Vaticani

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©Musei Vaticani

“Pain is absurd, one is tempted to shout.
Pain is useless.
Pain is unbearable.
Brothers and sisters,
a new revelation is opened
so that we might see in Christ
the transfiguration of suffering,
when it is valued as a sacrifice.
This sacrificial intentionality
that Christ bestowed on his Passion
made it a source of salvation,
the apex of love.”

(Paul VI, Homily at the Gemelli University Hospital, 17 June 1976)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 4

Vincent Van Gogh; Pietà,  c. 1890. Oil on canvas, Vatican Museums; Vatican  Apostolic Palace, Collection of Modern Religious Art ©Musei Vaticani

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©Musei Vaticani

“All human science, with its discoveries and technology,
and all its intelligence,
with its organizational capabilities
and inventive resources,
certainly makes society progress,
but will never eliminate Calvary,
because the earthly pilgrimage of humankind
is a search for the Absolute,
a perennial yearning
for that which transcends it.
It is therefore necessary to pray
that the divine light illuminate
intelligences and shake souls,
to elevate them to the prospective
of the eternal truths and the riches of grace.
By meditating on the drama of the human story
and on the mystery of the cross,
one understands that Calvary
cannot be suppressed
in the plan of creation and redemption:
God desires our love,
and love is demonstrated in faith;
but love is not given, without pain!
Look, therefore, to the crucified Christ,
together with the most holy Mary,
to feel in your hearts the importance
and greatness of your suffering!”

(John Paul II, Message to OFTAL, 21 March 1987)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 3

Nicholas of Liberatore, known as The Pupil (c. 1430-1502), The Coronation of the Virgin, deposed Christ and Saints, known as “Polyptych of Montelparo”, tempera and gold on wood, 1466, Vatican Art Gallery. ©Musei Vaticani

©Musei Vaticani
©Musei Vaticani

A time of suffering, in which one could be tempted
to abandon oneself to discouragement and hopelessness,
can thus be transformed into a time of grace
so as to return to oneself,
and like the prodigal son of the parable,
to think anew about one’s life,
recognizing its errors and failures,
longing for the embrace of the Father,
and following the pathway to his home.
He, in his great love, always and everywhere
watches over our lives and awaits us so as to
offer to every child that returns to him
the gift of full reconciliation and joy.


(Benedict XVI, 20th World day of Sick, 2012)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 2

Master of the Trevi Crucifix, Dossal compartment with Stories of the Passion: the crucifixion with Mary, John the Evangelist and, at the foot of the cross, Saint Nicola of Tolentino, tempera and gold on wood, 1320-1330, Vatican Museums, Art Gallery ©Musei Vaticani

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©Musei Vaticani

“Lord Jesus, help us to see in Your Cross
ll the crosses of the world.
Lord Jesus, revive in us the hope of resurrection
and of Your definitive victory
over all evil and all death. Amen!”

(Pope Francis, prayer during the Way of Cross
at the Colosseum, 19 April 2019)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Beauty that Unites 1

Giovan Francesco Barbieri, known as “il Guercino” (1591-1666), S. Maria Maddalena Penitente, altar-piece for the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena delle Convertite al Corso, oil on canvas, 1622, Vatican Museums, Art Gallery ©Musei Vaticani

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©Musei Vaticani

“God's mercy is an inexhaustible source that Christ
brought into the world precisely with the desire,
he anxiety to seek us, to pursue us and to tell us: I have loved you;
I have come for you, so that you might understand who you are
and how paralyzed and miserable you are.
But have faith, O child, these miseries of yours are forgiven.
Therefore, today we will go to Jesus:
like the paralytic, we too will present ourselves before Him.
With all humility we will ask Him, that the trust in his omnipotence
and goodness might be renewed in our soul. Let everyone implore:
Lord, save me: You alone have words of eternal life.”

(Paul VI, Homily, 20 September 1964)

Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza

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Updated daily. Last update 24 April 2020

30 March 2020, 10:55