Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Huge and beautiful floor with “Ancient Roman mosaic” from the so called Imperial Palace in Ostia

“Cycle of frescoes dedicated to Holy Mary” 1856/65 by Francesco Podesti (1800/95) from Ancona for Pius IX Mastai-Ferretti (1846/78) who had pronounced the dogma of the Immaculate Conception on December 31, 1854
The dogma is not the fact that Mary has conceived Jesus as a virgin, as is commonly and erroneously believed, but that she was born without original sin

In the vault, six octagons with “Faith”, “Doctrine” and four episodes of the Old Testament:
“Castaways with the Ark of Noah in the background”, “Jael kills Sisera”, “Esther fainting before Ahasuerus” and “Judith with the head of Holofernes”

In the large wall to the right “Proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception” with two registers, earthly and heavenly, inspired by the masterpieces of Raphael

On the left into the wall with the windows “Stories and allegorical figures”

Opposite the entrance “Crowning of the image of the Immaculate Coronation” in the Chapel of the Choir of the Basilica of St. Peter's

Francesco Podesti tore down a ceiling with an attic above enlarging in this way the walls of the room
During the discussion that took place for the proclamation of the dogma Podesti drew from life with almost photographic details all participants he would have later painted in his “Discussion”

He included a certain Father Passaglia, who had expressed unorthodox ideas, but Podesti insisted to include him as well, reminding that Judas was included in all representations of the Last Supper despite having done much worse than poor Father Passaglia

“A cultured and civilized work that is, however, outside of history, it floats above history as an anachronism perfect in his own way. Some might say that the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception can be taken as a mirror and metaphor for the long pontificate of Pius IX, also hung between the Old Regime and modernity, between the progressive openings and conservative closings. In a schematic view of history would be easy to argue that also the Mastai-Ferretti pontificate is unresolved and pending on the events of the century in a state of substantial irrelevance, in precarious and stunned balance between the ancient Church which ends with Gregory XVI Cappellari and the modern Church that with Leo XIII and Pius XI, will be a protagonist in the dramatic heart of the twentieth century. In fact, the personality of Pope Pius IX is more nuanced and complex than historiographical stereotypes would allow us to understand. (...) We can say with Micol Forti, that the Hall of Francesco Podesti (...) has an eminently documentary value. It is the valuable testimony of a commission that - not without culture, or ineffectively, it is also fair to say - was trying to counter impending and unavoidable historical events” (Antonio Paolucci)

At the center of the room “Precious cabinet” from Paris made of wood, metal, porcelain and semiprecious stones designed by Emile Auguste Reiber and executed by Charles and Paul Christofle in 1877
In the cabinet there are precious books with translations of the bull Ineffabilis Deus of 1854 in all languages of the Catholic populations of the world, donated to the Pope in 1877

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