Vatican Splendors exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

While I was expecting to see all things Reagan at the Presidential Library, I was not expecting to see the wonderful Vatican Splendors exhibit.  This was a great surprise when I took the tour of the museum and library with part of the North American Travel Journalists during our convention in Oxnard, California.  The exhibit was timely since my visit was just after Easter, thoughts of the Risen Savior were still foremost in my mind.  The beauty of the view from the museum and library reminded me of the beauty of God’s creation as I saw mountain, flower and sea all in one vast vista.

view from reagan library

The Vatican Splendors exhibit brings for many of us that have never visited the Vatican some of the wonderful art and history of early Christianity.  The exhibit includes artists like Michelangelo, Bernini, Parmigianino and Guercino.  It was amazing to see objects dating back all the way to the first century. One of the most touching exhibits as well as haunting were what the Vatican Splendor’s website referred to as, “the venerated relics (bone fragments) of Saint Peter and Saint Paul”.


One of my favorite items from the exhibit was this bust of the Madonna by an unknown artist that created it in 1939.

The exhibit included Michelangelo’s art and tools used in work on the Sistine Chapel. This is one of the largest Vatican collections ever to tour North America. Many items have never before been on public view.  Not being Catholic I didn’t really understand the independent state of the Vatican.  Reading on the Vatican Splendors website they explain, “The Vatican is an independent state located inside the city of Rome covering an area of 0.17 square miles. It is the home of Pope Benedict XVI, the current head of the Catholic Church worldwide. The Roman Pontiff, who resides at the Vatican, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful.”

No matter what denomination, I think anyone that is Christian, or even if not, if interested in religious history that they would enjoy this exhibit.  It was moving and indeed, splendid!

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