Visitors look over the study "Mother and Child" by Henri Matisse at the Vatican Museums in this 2011 file photo. For the first time beginning this month, the museums will have a pair of priests serving as guides to visitors as they view the Vatican's vas t collection of artwork and artifacts.
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church teaches that beauty can be a path to God, and in an attempt to make that path easier for visitors to follow, the Vatican Museums have assigned two priests to guide the searching. Or just to talk.
“Art and faith: A priest for you,” says the sign on the table where a priest from Togo and another from Nigeria took up their posts on an experimental basis.
With thousands of visitors passing through the museums each day, “we decided a discrete presence should be offered for those who feel a need to talk or seek advice. Who knows, it could even lead to a confession,” a bishop-official connected to the Museums said.
“Art is a path to beauty and truth, and therefore to God,” the bishop said. The two pioneer priest-guides are members of religious orders.
One is a Sacred Heart missionary and the other is a member of the Orionine Fathers — both are studying at pontifical universities in Rome and they both speak Italian, English and French.
Msgr. Paolo Nicolini, managing director of the Vatican Museums, said the Vatican is calling the assignment an experiment because “it’s something absolutely new.”
“We need to be able to understand and eventually make adjustments or — as we hope — increase it,” he said.
“We need to know if we are meeting a real need and if we are doing it well,” the monsignor said.