Print this Page
Print this Page

Holy See/ 7. Public institutions in cultural infrastructure  

7.3 Status and partnerships of public cultural institutions

The Pontifical Academies

Benedict XVI reiterated the aims of the Pontifical Academies in a message to its Members in 2005: "offer the Church, as well as to the world of culture and arts, a project renewed with authentic Christian humanism, that is useful and meaningful for the men and women of the third millennium." He adds: "Such is your arduous task, your noble mission: give Christ to the man today, presenting him as the true measure of maturity and of human fullness".

  • the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is a descendant of the Academy dei Lincei, which was founded in Rome in 1603 and of which Galileo was a member. It was revived by Pius IX in 1847, nationalised by the Italian Government after the capture of Rome in 1870, and then reconstituted by Pius XI in 1936. It is located in the Casina of Pius IV in the Vatican Gardens. The mission of its 80 members, who are chosen without regard to country or religion and about 40 of whom are Nobel prize winners, is to honour pure science, ensuring its freedom and encouraging research. It is supported financially by the Holy See;
  • more recently, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences was set up in 1994 with the aim of promoting the human sciences. The Pontifical Academy for Life was established in 1984; and
  • there are seven other academies that are part of the Co-ordinating Council for Pontifical Academies. The oldest of these is the Pontifical Academy of Virtuosi at the Pantheon, founded in 1542. In recent years the various academies have undergone a modernisation process, with an updating of their statutes and a renewal of their focus. They are funded by the Holy See, and new forms of funding are being sought.

The Vatican Museums

Popes Clement XIV and Pius VII were the founders of the Pontifical Museums and Galleries of the Vatican. The Art Gallery, the Egyptian Museum, the Etruscan Museum, the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms or Borgia Apartments are the most well-known of the Vatican Museums. John XXIII assembled three Lateran museums-the Sacred and Profane Museum, the Christian Museum and the Ethnographic Missionary Museum-in a new modern building opened to the public in 1970. In 1973, Paul VI created the Museum of Modern Religious Art.

The constantly increasing flow of visitors led to the opening of a new access point to the museums. In 1982, the Patrons of the Arts Association was founded, bringing together American Catholics (and also people of other faiths) to provide financial support for the restoration and preservation of the Vatican Museums. The Egyptian Museum was fully renovated thanks to such support. Restoration of the Sistine Chapel frescoes, a huge undertaking, was carried out with the technical and financial help of a Japanese company.

Fabric of St Peter

This organisation dates back to Pope Julius II and is responsible for everything concerning St Peter's Basilica - its conservation and decoration as well as the internal organisation of its guards and pilgrimages. The large sums of money needed for the restoration work have led to a search for outside sources of funding. Thus, the façade of St Peter's Basilica and the colonnade around St Peter's Square were extensively restored and cleaned for the celebration of the 2000 Jubilee, an ongoing operation made possible by the contributions of sponsors who are financing it completely. The results give rise to hopes of other such co-operation in the future. The Fabric of St Peter also has a mosaic workshop.

Teaching centres

The Holy See has two teaching centres in the Vatican City: the Vatican School of Palaeography, Diplomacy and Archives, and the Vatican School of Librarianship. However, an extensive network of Pontifical Universities, which are financially and administratively autonomous, falls under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for Catholic Education with respect to the choice of academic authorities and approval of programmes. There are nine Pontifical Universities in Rome, as well as four Pontifical Theological Faculties, three specialised Pontifical Higher Institutes (the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology and the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies), while a very large network of Catholic Universities exists throughout the world. The Pontifical Universities of Rome have in recent years set up an information network incorporating all the ecclesiastical libraries of Rome, with a total of over 3 500 000 volumes (see  chapter 9.2 for web address).

The Central Committee of the Great Jubilee, set up in the course of celebrations for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, established many partnership agreements with different companies providing products and services, in order to help cover the expenses connected with jubilee events. Similar bilateral agreements were also made with various companies for specific interventions, especially restoration work (for example, the Sistine Chapel, the façade of St Peter's Basilica and the colonnade around St Peter's Square) and the installation of solar panels on the roof of the Paul VI audience hall. The tendency is more towards individual case-by-case partnership programmes than global agreements.

Chapter published: 19-01-2011

Your Comments on this Chapter?