Singing Through the Sistine Chapel

by Jessica on February 21, 2008

When we exited St Peter’s, the lengthy lines were beginning to form around the courtyard. We were happy to have the immediate reminder why we rose before the sun. Around the corner, the line was forming for the entrance to the Vatican Museums. We were happy to be towards the front of the line, and had only about 30 minutes to wait for the museum opening. While waiting, we played a game of counting the mopeds and smart cars, taking bets which vehicle would be the winner.

Laocoon and His Sons

53 mopeds and 47 smart cars later, the doors opened and we entered along with the rest of the crowd. Even though it was early, and off season, it was still very congested at the entrance and ticket counter. Luckily, the crowds thinned out as we moved through the museums. Like everyone, our goal was to see the Sistine Chapel, although there were some painting and sculptures along the way that we enjoyed.

Perseus Holding the Head of Medusa

The Vatican Museums are mostly a one way path that ends with the Sistine Chapel, and although there are some shortcuts, mostly you need to be prepared to walk a while to get to the good stuff. Along the way, we stopped in various rooms filled from floor to ceiling with dramatic art to sit on a bench and relax. This gave us a chance to rest our feet and our brains. The amount of art to absorb inside the Vatican is enormous.

Once we passed through the Raphael rooms, we knew we were close to the Sistine because we could hear voices booming ‘No pictures’ from inside in both English and Italian. Pictures are allowed in all parts of the Vatican Museums except the Sistine Chapel, as the copyrights to those images belong to the Japanese TV company who underwrote the cleaning of the chapel.

Raphael’s School of Athens

Once inside the Sistine chapel, I wanted to sit and soak in the art for a while. The room was quite crowded, so we actually had to wait to get a seat along the benches that line the walls. Once we were seated our eyes bounced from one magnificent painting to the other, as we craned our necks until our muscles ached. After sitting for quite a while, we noticed that Evan had fallen asleep in Gary’s lap, so that afforded us more time to sit in awe.

I have wanted to see Michelangelo’s labor of love my entire life. I had certainly created a romanticized idea of what it would be like to stand under his salient work. I had hoped that I would be able to grasp some of Michelangelo’s passion and feel a stirring of creativity in my soul. In truth, the crowd and the constant shushing and bellowing of the guards almost took away from the experience. That is until Ryan began to sing quietly next to me. “Shout to the North and the South; sing to the East and the West. Jesus is Savior of all. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth,” he sang solemnly and barely audibly.

“Whatcha’ doing?” I asked him casually. “Being here just makes me want to sing,” he said as he returned to singing his song of praise. Despite the crowds and the guards and the walking, his heart was stirred to singing. Watching him soak in the awe, seeing it through his eyes, that’s what finally gave me that soul stirring feeling for which I was searching.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: