Up close and personal: Restorers find gems, jokes visitors might miss

Categories: Latest News

April 9, 2015

Restoration of Jesus statue as seen at Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs in Rome

A statue of Jesus with a tear in his eye is seen as restoration progresses at the Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs in Rome March 10. Restoration of artwork at the sanctuary is expected to last another four years. The famous stairs at the sanctuary are believed to be those climbed by Jesus when Pontius Pilate brought him before the crowd. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — What the general public can squint at and admire from afar, an art restorer can enjoy from just inches away.

Perched on scaffolding and cleaning off centuries of soot under bright directional lights, the restorers’ privileged peek doesn’t come often or easily. Full-scale restoration projects are expensive and complex, happening in some instances every 100 years, like the project underway at Rome’s Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs.

With the help of private donors and the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, the Vatican Museums have been overseeing a 15-year-long restoration of the sanctuary, which houses stairs that, according to tradition, are the ones Jesus climbed when Pontius Pilate brought him before the crowd and handed him over to be crucified.

Read more in The Visitor…