Showing posts with label spiritual. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spiritual. Show all posts

The Beauty of the Sistine Chapel

As I watch midnight mass at the Sistine Chapel in Italy on Christmas Eve, I am reminded of my trip to Rome. Seeing the Chapel again on TV and its appeal to all ages and races throughout the world has encouraged me to share some interesting information of its inception and history to date.

The Sistine Chapel is not only one of the world’s most significant sites of holy pilgrimage, but contains unparalleled historic artwork by some of Italy’s most celebrated Renaissance artists, including the unparalleled Michelangelo. A period in history when optimism and belief in classical ideas provided artists of that time with the desire and energy to realize their incredible works. Still relevant today as a venue for important religious ceremonies for The Holy Catholic Church, The Sistine Chapel is more than a historical destination. This site still inspires artistic and spiritual awe amongst its millions of visitors each year, and is in fact the very epicenter of the thriving religious community of The Vatican City.

The Apostolic Palace
The Sistine Chapel is part of a 1,000 room network known as the Apostolic Palace, or the Sacred Palace, which is the pope’s sanctioned Vatican residence. In addition to the Sistine Chapel, this massive set of buildings includes the Papal Apartments, the Vatican Library and Museums, various government offices of the Holy Catholic Church, numerous lesser chapels, and Raphael’s Rooms, which are public areas of the papal residence decorated in superb frescos by the legendary renaissance artist Raphael Sanzio.

History and Purpose
The Sistine Chapel was designed by Baccio Pontelli for Pope Sixtus IV, and was subsequently constructed by Giovannino de’ Dolci between 1475 and 1483. The finished Sistine Chapel was at first used for regular religious services, the first mass being held on August 9th, 1483, for The Feast of the Assumption. In more recent times, however, the Chapel has been chiefly used to host The Papal Conclaves, the ceremonies and proceedings that take place to select a new Pope.

Much like the interior decorative artwork, the architectural plans of The Sistine Chapel stemmed from biblical inspiration. The measurements of this simple rectangular brick building with its six arched windows correspond exactly with the Temple of Solomon in The Old Testament: 40.93 meters long by 13.41 meters wide by 20.70 meters high. The building is roofed by a flattened barrel vault ceiling. In the interior, the marble transenna, or screen, is divided into two parts: the larger part that includes the altar is used by the priests and clergy for religious ceremonies, and the smaller part is the area that hosts the faithful churchgoers. During significant religious ceremonies, the side walls are covered in lush tapestries designed by Raphael that represent events in the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul.

The Frescoes by Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Perugino, and Cosimo Roselli
The walls of the chapel were commissioned to be decorated by some of Italy’s premier artists; including Botticelli, Pinturicchio, Ghirlandaio and Luca Signorelli. Based on the division of world history into three distinct eras, the first division of the walls of the Sistine Chapel were decorated to represent earth in the time prior to The Ten Commandments, the second partition represented the world between the times of Moses and Christ, and the last segment was dedicated to an artistic representation of the modern Christian era.

The Ceiling by Michelangelo
In 1508, Pope Julius II requested that Michelangelo transform the ceiling of the chapel, at the time a plain blue sky decorated with golden stars, into a piece of art featuring the twelve apostles that would correspond with the richly decorated walls of the church. Although he considered himself foremost a sculptor and was from the beginning opposed to the Pope’s commission, Michelangelo not only obeyed the Pope’s wishes but subsequently surpassed them by transforming the ceiling into an awe-inspiring canvas that featured more than three hundred biblical figures. Michelangelo undertook this challenge and painted the frescoes practically unaided on 12,000 square feet of ceiling between the years of 1508 and 1512. The three hundred biblical figures were dispersed between nine frescoed images including God’s Creation of the World, God’s Relationship with Man and Man’s Fall from Grace. This unrivaled artistic achievement is still regarded as one of the foremost examples of pictorial art.

The Last Judgment by Michelangelo
As if his artistic accomplishments on the Sistine Chapel Ceiling weren’t enough, Pope Paul III commissioned Michelangelo some twenty years later to create a mural of the Last Judgment on the altar wall of The Sistine Chapel. This latest artistic work, completed in 1541, differed greatly in style from Michelangelo’s early works, perhaps influenced by the political and religious climate of the times. His earlier work on The Chapel ceiling evoked a feeling of human triumph and aesthetic pleasure, while this newer mural attracted adversity and some criticism because of the menacing, godly wrath depicted in the mural images, as well as the unexpected prevalence of human nudity in his paintings. Despite the controversy surrounding Michelangelo’s latest creation, it is still considered to be one of the world’s greatest religious paintings.

Some interesting facts about the Sistine Chapel.

The Sistine Chapel was built by a Pope named Pope Sixtus the Vl, hence the name Sistine Chapel?

Michelangelo was only 32 years old when he began painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and completed it in only 4 years?

The Sistine Chapel was built to house the Cardinals while they deliberated on who should become the next Pope.

The famous chimney that releases black smoke telling us the Pope has died and white smoke telling us we have a new Pope is set up in the Sistine Chapel? You can see the marks where it sits towards the back right of the chapel?

No artist in history suffered as much as Michelangelo in the 4 years it took him to complete the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He suffered with painful knees, back, neck and almost went totally blind but he still managed to live to be 89 years old.

Michelangelo painted the Last Judgement (the front wall of the Sistine Chapel) 28 years after he finished the Sistine ceiling?

Michelangelo’s enemy, Raphael, was originally asked to paint the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel but refused. He suggested Michelangelo knowing he was a sculpture and not a painter.

The Sistine Chapel was completely cleaned between the years 1980 to 199. It was paid for by the camera company Fuji Film. Fuji Film now own all copyright to the paintings on the ceilings for 20 years, and that is why there is no photography allowed of that artwork..

Pope Julius ll (the Pope that commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel)sold Indulgences in order to pay Michelangelo for his work? Selling Indulgences meant that people could pay money to get time off Purgatory.

There are 3 Botticelli paintings in the Sistine Chapel, painted 24 years before Michelangelo began the Ceiling.

Share your thoughts and experiences if you like and have a wonderful holiday season.....

Walking Your Way to Inner Peace

We all strive to live with inner peace, embracing a calm mindset throughout each day. Once we have the condition of peace in us, we can afford to be in any situation. Even in times when extreme challenges invade our life, we are able to contribute our peace and serenity to the situation.

Sometimes that sense of peace disappears because something enters our mind and our thoughts and feelings start to weigh heavy, creating anxiety, expectation and stress. Becoming overwhelmed by this can take us into a non-productive state, both physically and mentally. Just spending time to quiet our mind again, reconnecting with our inner peace, will put us back on the right path. One way to do this is to take a special kind of walk designed to help the journey, called a “Labyrinth Walk.”

What is a Labyrinth?

Labyrinth is a metaphor for our own spiritual path, and it touches our joys and sorrows, our memories and present issues. It is a safe place to simply experience ‘being.’ The Labyrinth is an ancient sacred walking path, and its pattern and derivatives were placed in Gothic cathedrals in France in the 13th century. In the past decade, it has been reintroduced to the United States as a tool to connect with the Divine Spirit. The path, having historical significance in its geometric and numerical design, is one winding continuous flow to the center and back that can be imprinted on portable canvas, permanent stone flooring, or part of a garden landscape. Labyrinth design offers a way of finding peace and clarity through movement. It has a singular, well-defined path that leads to the center and back out again. Many use this space for prayer, meditation, and introspection, nourishing their connectedness to self and spiritual renewal. Any insight or transformations are possible in this sacred space if the walker can let go of ‘expectation’ and simply experience its treasures.

Walking a Labyrinth
People of all faiths have found peace through labyrinth walking because they are considered non-denominational. The labyrinth has only one path to the center. There are no dead ends or wrong turns. Everything on the path is a metaphor for life’s journey. It symbolizes the path to be followed, in daily and seasonal cycles, in life, death and in rebirth.

There are three stages of the walk:

Purgation (Releasing) ~ As you start the walk you are releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions and a time to open the heart and quiet the mind.

Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stand, sit or lie down and stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation, reflection and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.

Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is symbolic of joining the healing forces at work in the world and symbolic of how you walk in your life with what you have received. Each time you walk the labyrinth, you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul reaching for.


A labyrinth presents an opportunity for thought, peace and awareness. Because there are no decisions to be made, the walker can let go of the outside world and worries while following the path, circling toward the center. A labyrinth can be a transformational tool that creates a mind-body-spirit connection and a feeling of wholeness. Many people find labyrinth walking to be a calming, centering experience which embraces peaceful reflection. Some people find themselves overcome with powerful emotions as they journey inward. People often respond to the labyrinth without actually knowing why. They simply like how they feel in its embrace. It gives people a chance to charge their batteries again before going back into the fray.

In general, labyrinth walking is used to promote relaxation and relieve stress. Anyone looking for some peace and quiet can benefit from taking the journey to the center of a labyrinth. It has come to represent the inner pilgrimage we make to the center of our being. Walking the labyrinth is not about escaping into the center and leaving the world, it is about experiencing the spirit in the center so that you can live in the world in a more blessed way.

Most of all, labyrinths have healing qualities on many levels, emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual. This comes at a time when we greatly need healing. Healing must be an inside job, which is exactly how labyrinths function. Labyrinths are undergoing a great revival because at times of spiritual crisis they help restore the balance and the inner awareness that the world lacks. We, too, are the world, so eventually; the world itself changes as a reflection of our personal change.

Labyrinths have a long association as elements in gardens and other places of a spiritual, religious or medicinal nature precisely because the point of a labyrinth is to help the person who chooses to walk it with intention to find mental and emotional peace and in turn to carry that peace out into the world.

Labyrinths are more common in the modern world than you might think. Many people have built private labyrinths on their own property so they can walk at their leisure to feel the peaceful affects it brings to their life, but there are many beautiful public places to start your walk as well. There are thousands of permanent labyrinths in use today in the United States alone and can be found in many churches, parks, hospitals, colleges, gardens, community centers, retreat centers and even airports.

The Worldwide Labyrinth Locator provides a directory of labyrinths throughout the world. See if you can find one close to your work or home and start “Walking Your Way to Inner Peace!”

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