Holy See debutes pavilion at Venice Biennale

55th International art event welcomes Vatican exhibition

Holy See debutes pavilion at Venice Biennale

(By Kate Carlisle)Rome, 14 - There is no shortage of artistic inspiration between the Vatican walls. "Here, at the foot of this magnificent polychrome Sistine Chapel, is where the cardinals - a community responsible for passing on the keys to the kingdom - meet. Here is where they gather. And Michelangelo envelops them in his vision to this day", John Paul II wrote in his 2003 Polish-language poem entitled Roman Triptych. Pope John Paul was not the only pontiff to reflect on the power of art to move souls. Benedict XVI also believed in how "images at the hour of the great decision," speak to the viewer, as he wrote in the introduction to Pope John Paul's book of poetry. For the first time, the Holy See has stitched together an exhibition to be presented at its very own pavilion at none other than Venice's epic art event, the Biennale - an idea first alluded to in 2009. Starting June 1, the 55th International Art Exhibition entitled Il Palazzo Enciclopedico (The Encyclopedic Palace) runs until November 2013 at the Giardini and at the Arsenale in the Adriatic lagoon city. At a press conference on Wednesday, Biennale organizers explained that the Holy See's show will be held at the Sale d'Armi (the Arms Room), an area which is being restored and will be converted into permanent pavilions. Reports say that the sovereign nation of the Vatican would showcase a mix of emerging and established artists from around the world, fewer than 10 men and women, set up in the 450-square-meter 'Hall of the Holy See'. Works will reportedly draw from the first eleven chapters from the Book of Genesis. The Holy See will debut alongside eight other first-time participants - Paraguay, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, the Maldives, Bahamas and the Republic of Kosovo. The Venice Biennale attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to its biannual event, while the Vatican Museums, which include the Sistine Chapel and one of the world's largest art collections, attract some three million visitors a year. During the Biennale, organizers are betting on the long arm of the Vatican's art prowess to reach out to contemporary art enthusiasts as well, hoping that the curious will go to see what's in the See.

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