National Geographic : 1985 Dec
TREASURES OF THE During the more than 16 centuries since Emperor Constantinefounded the first Church of St. Peter on Vatican Hill, the Holy See has amassed one of the world's most extensive art collections. Works range from grandand heroic frescoes in the Sistine Chapel to exquisite diamond-encrustedpapal rings, one bearing the likeness of Pope Pius IX (left), who presidedfrom 1846 to 1878. He is said to have commissioned a dazzling chalice (right) made from gold and precious stones contained in the trappingsof a horse presented to him by a Turkish sultan. The Vatican is far more than the administrativecenter of the Roman Catholic Church. Its museums, chapels, and library constitute a unique and wondrous treasury. Here are preserved some of the most sublime creations of man, inspiredby his eternal yearningto give expression to the divine spirit. Photographs by JAMES L. STANFIELD and VICTOR R. BOSWELL, JR.