The Picture Thief

St. Peter's Basilica

I stole these pictures for you.

Vatican City is kind of a rebel. They’ve got a pope king, their economy rests on the sale of stamps and trinkets, and they are the only widely recognized independent state which hasn’t joined the United Nations.

The papacy has always intrigued me as there is a tremendous amount of mystery surrounding the truth of what takes place behind the many closed doors. I was pretty excited that my EF trip was spending the day here,  touring St. Peters Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.

St. Peter’s Square is appropriately impressive for the ornate grandeur that awaits inside.

st. peter's square


st. peter's square

There are about 6 nuns walking across the street.. there’s got to be a joke in there somewhere?

nun's crossing the road



I found myself looking around wide eyed as every inch is covered in carved and colored marble.

St. Peter's Basilica


The strangest and most surprising thing to me was this little guy below. Who is that you ask? Why it’s just Pope John XXIII who died in 1963.

He’s just part of that wall now.


Most of the pictures in the vatican extracted from these tours were taken in areas with an abundance of no photo signs. I completely understand that some art can be damaged by flash photography, so my flash remained off, and no art was harmed in the taking of these shots. That being said, the Sistine Chapel is full of guards and security trolling picture takers and you will be ejected if caught. That’s why you have to be good at being a picture thief. I’m pretty much thief level expert.


The Apostolic Palace is simply exquisite. The decorations are lavish and beautiful.

1809apostolic palace1810




apostolic palace

The Sistine Chapel definitely did not disappoint. In college I was an art history major, so as you can imagine I’d heard of the little known artist who completed it. You may have heard of him too, Michelangelo.

The central image of the ceiling has become so famous that I sometimes forget there’s a whole lot more going on on. He was originally commissioned to portray the 12 apostles on the triangular sections, but he asked to freehand and make a more complex scheme. What he did create was the Creation, the Fall of Man, the Promise of Salvation through the prophets, and the genealogy of Christ. The completion took only four years, and given the details and complexity I think that’s pretty impressive.

the sistine chapel

History always blows my mind. It’s easy to forget that the things you read about happening hundreds of years ago actually happened, and the people actually lived. Places like Vatican City which are so steeped in history definitely bring these things to light for me. While here, it’s a lot like stepping back into frozen chunks of time. It’s also refreshing to get a reprieve from pop culture and immerse in the classics.

If you like history, or art, or pretty things, you should go!

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