The Sistine Chapel comes to Stanley Marketplace

Exhibit gives visitors a chance to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece up close

Moira Cullings

Colorado residents will have an opportunity to gaze upon Michelangelo’s famous works of art — right in their own backyard.

The Sistine Chapel exhibit, coming to the Hangar at Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, offers visitors an up-close perspective of Michelangelo’s work.

“At its max, the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling reaches heights of over 60 feet,” said Eric Leong, Associate Producer at SEE Global Entertainment. “But at our exhibit, you can examine the artwork from mere inches away in some instances.

“It’s as if you have the same view Michelangelo did when he originally painted it.”

Co-produced by the Hangar and SEE Global Entertainment, the exhibit will run from July 4 until August 13.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the door, and group tickets are also available.

Visitors explore Michelangelo’s work at the Sistine Chapel exhibit in Tacoma, Washington last year. The exhibit will come to the Hangar at Stanley Marketplace from July 4-August 13. Photos by Lisa Money Photography

Bryant Palmer, Chief Storyteller at Stanley Marketplace, explained that exhibits like the Sistine Chapel embody what Stanley hopes to offer Colorado residents.

“Bringing it to Colorado in a way that’s easily accessible fits right in with pretty much everything we’re trying to do at Stanley Marketplace,” he said.

After visiting the Sistine Chapel during college, Palmer was intrigued but felt that “it wasn’t as intimate as I had hoped for,” he said.

“The biggest thing that I’ve learned since then is how little access you have to see the detail in Michelangelo’s work.”

This exhibit changes the game, offering people the unique chance to see the details.

“The breadth of [Michelangelo’s] work and how many different human figures and expressions he put in the Sistine Chapel is just incredible,” said Palmer. “In this exhibition, you’ll be able to see that and study it from just a couple feet away.”

Both Leong and Palmer emphasized how crucial exhibits like this can be in preserving art and other aspects of history.

“With the recent fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral, we were all reminded how precious our most revered works of art truly are and how important it is to preserve and celebrate them,” said Leong.

“Disasters happen,” said Palmer, “so an exhibition like this really preserves that and makes it something that will last forever.”

The exhibit has already had success in several cities around the world, including Munich, Panama City and Shanghai, and visitors “love being able to absorb the details of the artwork at their own pace in a comfortable environment,” said Leong.

Palmer hopes that will also be the case here in Colorado.

“Art is one of the things that gives meaning to the world, and especially a piece of work like this that really does tell in part the story of humanity,” he said. “I think that’s really powerful.”

COMING UP: The priesthood is more than just a job

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In October, the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region will be held at the Vatican. On the agenda: a discussion on the possibility of ordaining married men to the priesthood in that region, due to a particularly dire lack of vocations. The news has reawakened discussion on priestly celibacy in general, and whether the time has come to relax the requirement on a wider level. And so, I figured it was time to revisit the subject here, as well.

To set the tone, I’d like to begin my discussion with a very short quiz:

Q: Why does the Roman Catholic Church require lifelong celibacy for ordained priests?

  1. Because sex is bad, dirty and evil, and our priests should not defile themselves;
  2. Because we don’t want to have to support priests’ families out of collection funds;
  3. None of the above; or
  4. Both of the above.

The correct answer would be C, none of the above.

So why, then? Why on earth would these men have to give up the possibility of marriage and children, just because they want to serve God as priests?

Priestly celibacy is a discipline of the Church, not a doctrine. It could change. The rule has already been relaxed in relation to married Episcopalian priests who convert to Catholicism. In this era of widespread priest shortages, and even wider-spread scandals, should we consider expanding that exemption, and remove the requirement of priestly celibacy entirely? Wouldn’t a married priesthood encourage more men, and perhaps healthier men, to respond to the call of God?

Perhaps. But at what cost?

Discussions about the elimination of priestly celibacy are not new. They’ve been around as long as priestly celibacy itself. One of the periods of particularly spirited discussion on the subject was in the late 1960’s. In response, Pope Paul VI wrote an encyclical entitled Sacerdotalis Caelibatus. In it, he explained the reasons for the Church’s long history of priestly celibacy, and he enumerated three “significances,” or reasons, for the tradition:

Christological: The priesthood isn’t just a job. It is a state of being. It encompasses his entire existence. It places a mark on his soul — a mark that will follow him into eternity. The priest is ordained by a bishop, who was ordained by a bishop, who was ordained by another bishop, in an unbroken chain that goes clear back to the apostles. And through that sacramental ordination, and the power and grace it conveys, the priest stands in persona Christi —  in the person of Christ. He has the power to consecrate the Eucharist — to turn bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. He can forgive sins.  And so, standing in the person of Christ, the priest seeks to be like him in all things. He imitates Christ’s life, which includes Christ’s celibacy.

But, you say, Christ also had a beard. Does the priest have to imitate that, too? How far do we have to take this whole imitation thing? Well, the question we must ask is: What was integral to Christ’s ministry? Was celibacy integral? What would it look like if Christ had married and had children? He would have had to work to support them. He would have had to provide them a home.  No iterate preaching, moving from town to town. Jesus was not going to be an absentee husband and father. It was the freedom of celibacy that allowed him to give himself totally to the service of the Father and the Father’s children. So yes, I’d say it was integral. The beard, not so much.

Ecclesiological:  This basically means it is about the Church. Our understanding of a priest is not that he’s a single guy, a bachelor. He, like Christ, is in fact “married” to the Church. You’ve heard all that talk about how the Church is the “bride of Christ.” We really believe that. And the priest, standing in persona Christi, likewise becomes the Bridegroom, giving his life for the Church, and especially for the part of the Church he serves. He doesn’t just offer his “workday” to us, the flock.  He offers his life. He serves us as a husband serves his wife. (And we the faithful, as good “wives”, should likewise be going out of our way to love and care for our priests.)  His attention and affections are not divided between his bride, the Church, and an earthly bride and family. He has far greater freedom than a married man — freedom to not only serve his flock, but to pray and meditate and to grow closer to the Christ whom he represents on this earth. Which then prepares him for further service to the flock.

Eschatological: This means it’s about the next life. Remember my last column, about the Poor Clare Sisters who make the radical choice to live this life as if were already eternal life, focusing only on Christ? Well, priests participate in that too. Scripture says that, in Heaven, we will neither marry nor be given in marriage. (Mt 22:30) Priests and consecrated religious foreshadow that here, reminding us that everything that happens in this life is just a prelude to the life to come.

And so, for all of these reasons, I oppose the wholesale elimination of the requirement of priestly celibacy. I realize that we already have exceptions. I know several of those “exceptions,” and I think they are wonderful people and wonderful priests. But I think they would acknowledge the difference between the exception and the rule, and that the loss of priestly celibacy would change our understanding of the character and charism of the priesthood. The priesthood would be increasingly perceived as just another career choice — one to be entered and left at will.

And whatever the priesthood may be, it is definitely not just another job.

Featured image by Josh Applegate on Unsplash