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Sistine Chapel closed in order to prepare for papal conclave

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 6th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Sistine Chapel, by far the Vatican's greatest tourist attraction with its magnificent frescoes by Michelangelo is being closed in order to prepare for the papal enclave. No date has been chosen to begin the election of Pope Benedict's successor.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The closure is intended to install a false floor to cover anti-bugging devices. The closure will also let workers bring in the stoves to burn ballot papers after each round of voting.

When white smoke emerges from the chimney, the world's 1.2 billion Catholics will know they have a new Pope.

The closure left many tourists annoyed and irritated. They say they are missing opportunities to see the stunning Michelangelo frescoes including the inimitable "Creation of Adam."

"We are disappointed actually because this is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Srini Kollpuba from Mumbai, India said.

"You can't visit the Vatican every year, or even every 10 years, when you're from Mumbai."

The Sistine Chapel, named after Pope Sixtus IV, is visited by nearly 10,000 tourists a day.

"It's a shame," Italian tourist Monika Fleischmann, who was visiting Rome with her two sisters, said. "We are only here two days so there wasn't enough time to wait until it reopened. But, I guess (a papal resignation) hasn't happened for more than 600 years."

The Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in the Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio and others. Under the patronage of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo painted 12,000 sq feet of the chapel ceiling between 1508 and 1512. The ceiling and especially "The Last Judgment" is widely believed to be Michelangelo's crowning achievement in painting.

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