conclave chapels

Mar 11, 2013

In preparation for tomorrow’s conclave we are hearing a lot about the Sistine Chapel which will be the ‘voting room’ for the Cardinals over the next few hours / days / weeks / months…  

However the neighbouring Pauline Chapel also plays a significant role in the conclave.  I was fortunate to visit this chapel (not open to the public) last year. It is separated from the Sistine Chapel by the Sala Regia

The Pauline chapel is best known for housing Michaelangelo’s last works. Among these are the Conversion of St. Paul and the Crucifixion of St. Peter.
Following the restoration of this chapel a few years ago a virtual tour was uploaded to the Vatican website.
The Sistine Chapel can also be toured virtually (or should that read “virtually toured?”):
Some years before I first visited Rome, my Godmother did a Vatican Museum tour. I recall asking her on her return, “how big is the Sistine chapel?”  I remember her responding that it was about the size of St. Patrick’s in Waimate.   We know the measurements of the Sistine Chapel: 40.9 metres (134 ft) long by 13.4 metres (44 ft) wide. (I’m not sure exactly how that corresponds to St. Pat’s?) The Sistine chapel was built to these measurements since these are the precise dimensions given in the Old Testament for the Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 6:2), built to house the Ark of the Covenant ( containing the Ten Commandments).

Today I’m remembering the homily given by Cardinal Ratzinger (as Dean of the College of Cardinals), just before they entered the conclave in April 2005. He finished that homily with a prayer. I have changed the name in the prayer to make it suitable for us to pray in these hours:

let us above all pray insistently to the Lord 
that after his great gift of Pope Benedict XVI, 
he will once again give us a Pastor 
according to his own heart, 
a Pastor who will guide us to knowledge of Christ, 
to his love and to true joy. 
Amen.

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