A pilot project making priests available to offer spiritual counselling at Rome’s Vatican Museums is being hailed as a success.
The Catholic News Agency reports that both priests and visitors welcomed the month-long initiative in August.
The priests were posted at “two strategic points” in the museums, according to the Vatican newspaper ‘L’Osservatore Romano’, in a project devised by secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City, Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca. The aim was to give museum visitors spiritual advice and iconographic information about the subject matter of the museums’ numerous works of art.
The two priests were Father Isaac Vondoame, a missionary with The Sons of Divine Providence from Togo, and Father Chidi Onwuka, a Missionary of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary from Nigeria. They told the Catholic News Agency that dozens of people stopped to talk to them every day. Fr Onwuka said: “When they see a priest at their disposal they are very happy.”
Usually visitors asked questions the meaning of some of the artworks but on some occasions a person would take the opportunity “to share some other things that particularly regard their spiritual lives,” said Fr Onwuka.
The Vatican Museums are among the most visited in the world and more than 5 million people visited last year. They contain some of the world’s most prized artworks, including the Sistine Chapel with its frescoes created by Michelangelo, Classical sculptures and Italian Renaissance masterpieces by Giotto, Raphael and Caravaggio.