Christianity has its roots and subsequent developments firmly embedded in the activities within the official Papal Residence. The Sistine Chapel is by far, the most popular chapel in the Apostolic Palace, in the Vatican City.
It is reputed for its architecture, which is the result of unique contributions by Renaissance artists, like Michelangelo, Bernini, and Raphael. Read on to get an idea of the history and importance of the Sistine Chapel.
The chapel is on record since 1368. The present one was designed by Pontelli and built under the expert guidance of Giovannino de Dolci. The construction and renovation took place between 1473 and 1481. Pope Julius II patronized paintings by Michelangelo on the ceiling, between 1508 and 1512.
On the ceiling, the starry sky is a famous painting by Pier Matteo d'Amelia, while the frescoes represent contributions by world renowned artists. This chapel is named after Pope Sixtus IV. He is credited with the restoration of the older Cappella Magna.
The period between 1477 and 1480 witnessed extensive work by painters, like Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, and Ghirlandaio. The artists were encouraged and guided to design and contribute to frescoed panels. The panels depicted events from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and a number of papal portraits.
On August 15, 1483, the Pope Sixtus IV consecrated the first mass here. It has ever since served as a rostrum for religious and official papal activity. It is now highlighted as the venue of the Papal conclave. The ceremony that results in the election of a new Pope is held here.
This chapel is thronged by clerics, officials, and distinguished visitors. It hosts only important services within the Papal Calendar. The choir presents original music only, and is permanent in nature.
The Last Judgment is not only among Michelangelo's best achievements, but also architectural grandeur with no equal. It functions as the venue for the assimilation of College of Cardinals every time a new Pope needs to be elected. It has a chimney, from which the color of the smoke that arises acts as an indication of election.
The sighting of white smoke due to the burning of the ballots and chemical additives, indicates that a new Pope has been elected. This happens only once. The rest of the time, the smoke is black.
The conclave is a space for cardinals to serve and hear mass. There is ample space for the cardinals to eat and sleep, while waiting for the results of the elections.
There are canopies for each cardinal-elector. The intent is to establish 'equal dignity', till the new Pope accepts his position. There are nine central panels that highlight stories from the Book of Genesis.
The paintings and frescoes depict Creation, the Fall of Man, the Great Flood, and the subsequent revival of the human race. The Sistine Chapel is a memorable place for every Pope. It is looked upon as the venue for the manifestation of Christ's will, regarding the successor of St Peter.
Papal Chapel is important from the point of view, that it is the meeting ground for important contributors to the well-being and interests of Christianity around the world. The conclave is rightly extolled in beauty and importance. It represents the spirit of renovation and renewal.