Thursday, April 24, 2008

CNS STORY: No place like home: Papal apartment gets extreme makeover

Sometimes Candy's insipid articles surprise even me. Her latest dig about the Papal Splender was no exception. The Pope actually lives in an apartment and it just had a recent makeover! Here are some excerpts from CNS.

CNS STORY: No place like home: Papal apartment gets extreme makeover: "No place like home: Papal apartment gets extreme makeover

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

The renovation, the workman related, was long overdue. The architects said they were surprised at the poor state of the apartment.

For one thing, the electrical system was not up to code. Some rooms still used old 125-volt electrical outlets, which were phased out years ago in Italy in favor of 220 volts. The water pipes were encrusted with rust and lime, and the heating system was approximate at best.

Above the false ceiling, workers discovered big drums placed strategically to catch the leaks from the roof; some were nearly full of water.

The makeover included renovation of the medical studio, which is said to include emergency surgery and dentistry equipment. The papal bedroom, situated at the corner of the building, was completely redone, and most of the rooms were freshly wallpapered.

The new kitchen was reportedly outfitted by a German company, with state-of-the-art ovens, ranges and other appliances.

Those who frequented the papal apartment under Pope John Paul II have no doubt that the place needed an overhaul. Polish film director Krzysztof Zanussi, a friend of the late pope, once said he was astonished at the gloominess of the place, with its outmoded furnishings and lack of lighting.

"Everything was in semidarkness, somber and without inspiration. The chairs were like the ones my aunt had in the suburbs of Warsaw," Zanussi said. "It was not a place that made one feel good."

The papal apartment wraps around two sides of the Apostolic Palace and is accessed by a doorway that opens onto a historic loggia decorated with frescoes. The layout includes a vestibule, the library, a small studio for the papal secretary and the pope's private studio, from which he blesses the crowd every Sunday.

The other rooms include the pope's bedroom, the medical studio, his private chapel, a small living room, a dining room and kitchen.

The papal apartment didn't always have a bird's-eye view of St. Peter's Square and the city of Rome. In fact, it was only in the late 1300s that popes established their permanent residence at the Vatican.

The masterfully decorated apartments of Renaissance pontiffs like the Borgia pope, Alexander VI, are now part of the Vatican museums. The most famous papal apartment was that of Pope Julius II, who had rooms decorated with a cycle of frescoes by Italian artist Raphael Sanzio.

It was Pope Pius X who transferred his apartment to the top floor of the Apostolic Palace in 1903. In 1964, Pope Paul VI completely remodeled the papal residence, and Pope John Paul made his own changes early in his papacy.

In the late 1930s, the huge attic above the apartment was remodeled to make a series of mini-apartments that open to the inner courtyard. They house members of the pope's household staff, and one is said to have been refitted as a guest quarters for Pope Benedict's brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.

Looks like living in a museum/office building to me.

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Perplexity said...

Having actually seen the apartments, I can promise Candy there is no splendor. They were, in fact, quite worn and ragged. From the outside, the looked splendid - simply because the building faces St. Peter's square and is directly behind many of the artistic statues of the square.

When people make ridiculous claims, they should do research first. Real research, from reputable sources.

Domini Sumus said...

I have not actually been in the apartments, but I have been in the private hallways which lead to them.

While the main halls, which are meant for audiences with world leaders, are quite extravagant and gorgeous, the private areas are very simple. In fact, they needed quite a bit of work. The white walls and old vinyl tiles were in start contrast with the frescoed halls I had walked minutes before. The paint was peeling in many places and there were holes where moisture was seeping in from the outside.