Papal visit brings Raphael Tapestries to London

Fri, 09/10/2010 - 07:31

Pictures by Vatican Museums

Despite petitions, planned demonstrations and even an attempt to have Pope Benedict arrested for “crimes against humanity” during his visit to Britain next week, both British and Vatican officials are determined that the visit will be a success.

The Pope will arrive in Scotland on Thursday and there he will be formally received as a Head of State by the Queen. While he is in Edinburgh he will be presented with a special tartan in honour of his visit.

The “Ninian tartan” has been designed by the American Matthew Newsome and made with the cooperation of two Scottish companies, Ingles Buchan and Clan Italia.
Clan Italia makes Scottish kilts and scarves aimed at the Scottish-Italian market and owner Michael Lemetti has made kilts for Fabio Cannavaro, Rene Gattuso and Silvio Berlusconi. [We do not know if Mr Berlusconi wore his.] The blue, white, green , red and yellow Ninian tartan was inspired by the Scottish and Vatican colours together with the red lines of Cardinal Newman's crest.

On Friday and Saturday the Pope will attend events in London and on Sunday 19th September he will be in Birmingham for the Mass for the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman.

The visit has also brought an unprecedented Italian art event to Britain. From now until 17th October there will be an exhibition of the Sistine Chapel Raphael Tapestries at the Victoria and Albert Museum: The four tapestries, lent by the Vatican, were commissioned by Pope Leo X as his art legacy to the Sistine Chapel.

He planned that they would only be hung there for special papal occasions and they are usually kept in the Vatican. The last time they were hung in the Sistine Chapel was in 1982. What is remarkable about this exhibition is that the Victoria and Albert Museum owns the seven Raphael cartoons for the tapestries but the cartoons and the tapestries have never before hung side by side.

The Vatican and the Victoria and Albert Museum worked together to prepare this exhibition in just six months. The exhibition is said to be the inspiration of Pope Benedict himself.

Do you think the visit will be a success?
If you are in London, will you go to see the tapestries?