BENEFITING: PATRONS OF THE ARTS IN THE VATICAN MUSEUMS
The Pio Christian Museum contains the collections of Christian antiquities
housed in the Lateran Palace until 1963.
It consists of two sections: the first devoted to sculpture, mosaics and
architectural fragments placing special emphasis on sarcophagi, the second
focuses on inscriptions pertaining to public monuments and places of
worship, poems of Pope Damasus I, tomb inscriptions with significant public
dates, those pertaining to various Christian dogmas, the ecclesiastical
hierarchy, and inscriptions accompanied by symbols. The collection of the
Pio Christian Museum includes more than 300 works dating between the 3rd and
5th centuries mainly made up of scenes from the Bible of burgeoning
Christian art. The Vatican’s collection of funerary sculpture of the late
antiquity is the largest and most important in the world.
These early Christian sarcophagi are in need of urgent restoration.
Restorations in past centuries involved the adhesion of fragments using
natural resins and metallic pins and clamps. Over time the metal supplements
caused degradation while the loss of adhesion by the old bonding agents used
has jeopardized the works rendering them difficult to handle or move safely.
The legibility of the works has been partially compromised by sediment. An
intervention of the Scientific Research Laboratory on a first batch of
sculptural fragments yielded information on their history, the techniques
with which they were made and the archaeological and historical context of
the individual works. Additionally, investigations have provided further
knowledge of the nature of previous interventions by studying the techniques
and workshops' practices used by sculptors and restorers during the 18th and
Help us preserve these ancient works for the next 2000 years!