Vatican Lends 41 Items to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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VATICAN CITY – Vatican officials are loaning 41 items to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The pieces are few a new display: ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’.

“The Costume Institute’s spring 2018 exhibition – at The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters – will feature a dialogue between fashion and medieval art from The Met collection to examine fashion’s ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism,” reads a description from the Met’s website.

The papal robes and accessories on loan from the Vatican serve as the cornerstone of the exhibit. Before the exhibit at the Met, these items have never been on display outside the Vatican walls. Included in the exhibit are the shoes of Saint Pope John Paul II, the mitre of Pope Pius XI, the cope of Pope Benedict XV, and the tiara of Pope Pius IX from 1854.

Read more: 34 Reasons to Never Visit the Vatican

Archbishop Georg Gänswein is the prefect of the papal household. Last May, he met with Andrew Bolton, the head curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During their visit, Bolton showed Archbishop Gänswein a catalog that displayed pieces of art that Bolton curated to match with the Vatican treasures.

“The show is about Catholic symbolism and Catholic iconography, but it really is about how these designers and artists, raised Catholic, were impacted by that in their creative life, and how that has expressed itself in their works,” Bolton explained.

During their meeting, Archbishop Gänswein and Bolton discussed the role of beauty in evangelization. The archbishop granted permission for Bolton to borrow vestments from the Vatican.

According to the New York Times, Bolton was given full access to the Sistine Chapel Sacristy. He “became so close with its custodian priests in his 10 trips to Rome that they entrusted him with the hidden chamber’s keys and opened secret doors, behind which elderly nuns ironed the pope’s white vestments.”

Visit the Met’s website to view some of the pieces that are currently on display.

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