EWTN Vatican
Lenten Tour at the Vatican Museums

Amidst the season of Lent, the Vatican Museums open their doors to an extraordinary tour, delving deep into the pivotal moments of Jesus Christ's Death and Resurrection. Sister Emanuela Edwards, Head of the Educational Activities Office, curates this unique spiritual expedition, starting from the ancient corridors of the Pius Christian Museum, inviting visitors to journey back in time to learn from the early Christians.

The tour's starting point is the "Anastasis," a sarcophagus renowned for its depiction of the Resurrection, encircled by scenes of the Lord's Passion. From Pilate's condemnation to Simon of Cyrene's act of compassion, the narrative unfolds leading to the central mystery of Christian faith – the Lord's triumphant Death and Resurrection. Here, the "Chi Ro," the symbol of Christ, commands attention, symbolizing His glory in the Resurrection, surrounded by the powerless soldiers asleep, marking the divine victory over death.

A profound scene of hope is narrated through the story of St. Peter, depicted on another magnificent sarcophagus. Contrary to typical depictions, the cockerel, symbolizing Peter's denial, is positioned in a tree, transforming from a sign of conscience to a symbol of Resurrection. This change reflects a deeper understanding of hope and redemption, themes resonant with the Lenten season.

Sister Edwards also guides visitors through the portrayal of Old Testament stories as prefigurations of the Lord's Death and Resurrection, like Daniel in the lion's den, which parallels the cross's horror with victory and grace. The tour proceeds to the Pinacoteca, home to Caravaggio's "Entombment of Christ," a masterpiece evoking the gravity of Christ's sacrifice. Here, Nicodemus's gaze towards the viewer reinforces the universal significance of Christ's death, while the three women at the foot of the cross embody the blend of sorrow and hope that early Christians held towards the Resurrection.

This Lenten visit to the Vatican Museums is an invitation to pause and immerse in the beauty of sacred art, allowing these masterpieces to resonate with the Gospel's message, fostering a deeper reflection on faith. Through Sister Edwards's insightful guidance, visitors are reminded of the enduring power of art to convey the profound truths of Christian belief, making this journey a meaningful spiritual experience during Lent.

Author Name

Anthony Johnson is a filmmaker at the EWTN Vatican Bureau and is Senior Video Producer of the office's Projects Incubator. He is from San Jose, California and a graduate of Gonzaga University where he studied both Classical Civilizations and Broadcast Journalism. He joined EWTN as a Video Editor in 2017 for the "Vaticano" program, and still contributes to the program while working on a variety of multimedia initiatives and documentaries in Rome.

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