Sistine Chapel “rented” out to Porsche?

Someone allowed the the Sistine Chapel to be “rented” for a corporate event. HERE  Someone else in the Holy Sees denies that it was “rented”.   However, a big German corporation gave money to the Holy See and, after that, the corporation used the chapel for an event.

His Holiness has taken an interest in cars for a while now.  HERE

Porsche rents Sistine Chapel for Pope’s charity

For its fans, getting into a Porsche can be like a religious experience, but it’s probably no substitute for getting into the Sistine Chapel.
For the first time ever, the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican — one of the world’s most celebrated example of Renaissance art — can be rented out for corporate charity events.

Forty Porsche enthusiasts, at $5,900 per head, on Saturday were the first group of people treated to a private tour under the Vatican’s new program. The event is part of Pope Francis’ Art for Charity project.
Porsche’s tour is a far cry from what the average visitor gets. Most of the Sistine Chapel’s 20,000 daily visitors get a quick glance at the chapel before they’re rushed out in an attempt to protect its fragile frescoes. The Porsche clients enjoyed a private concert while admiring the famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo.
The event was part of an exclusive four-day tour of Rome arranged by Porsche, which is owned by Volkswagen (VLKAF). Besides the concert, it also included after-hours access to the Vatican Museums and a gala dinner “in the midst of the exhibition,” a trip to the Pope’s summer retreat of Castel Gandolfo and a drive to Lago di Garda in the latest Porsche models.
It was the first time any Pope agreed to rent the chapel out for a corporate event.
The Vatican rejects that description.
“The Sistine Chapel can never be rented because it is not a commercial place,” Vatican spokesman Monsignor Paolo Nicolini told reporters.
Instead, the Holy See described the Sistine Chapel as “visible” for private groups. [Like German corporations who used it for a commercial event.  Right?  It wan’t a religious event.  It was for clients of Porsche.]

The Vatican hopes other companies will follow suit with similar events. [Think of the potential!]
“This initiative is organized directly by the Vatican Museums and is directed at big companies,” Nicolini said.
But companies hoping to hold their next Christmas party there will be disappointed — the Vatican intends the chapel to be used for art events only. [Not like Masses, or anything like that.]

The Blessed Sacrament is not reserved in the Sistina.

I wonder if, during the event, there was one of those big turn tables with a car on it an a pretty girl waving her hands over it.

The potential of this is great!   Do you think they could perhaps have temporary naming rights for “donations”?  The Tostitos Sistine Chapel during May, for Cinco de Mayo!  The Chase Manhattan St. Peter’s Basilica.  The colonnade of square has a lot of ad space.  Vestments could have Nike flashes and motor oil logos.

Think of the possibilities!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Frank H says:

    I thought Pope Francis wanted a “poor” church?

  2. SaintJude6 says:

    What most struck me about this is Nicolini saying they are directing this at big companies. Would those be the same big companies upon which they try to pin the great evils of the world, like capitalism and youth unemployment?

  3. defreitas says:

    It seems the Pope’s almoner is in need of further funds for his charitable excursions.

  4. Raymond says:

    Putting on my “cynical” hat: Could this be a way for Pope Francis to offset potential financial setbacks from rich conservative donors who are thinking of withholding donations to the Vatican due to the way he’s managing the Church?

  5. anilwang says:

    Sure, why not.
    It has historical precedence: Matthew 21:12-18

  6. rtjl says:

    Didn’t something like this happen before? Something involving whips and cords?

  7. mrshopey says:

    So, a corporation can rent the Sistine Chapel for private use – wait – they don’t use rent – A corporation, as long as they are raising money for the Pope, can have a private function in the Sistine
    Chapel? And the only difference between them renting that place and the Ritz is the term used, because they don’t like to use the term because the Sistine Chapel can’t be rented?
    And the only events they want it to be for are arts event.
    Define art.
    I guess the Body Exhibit COULD do it under that guise as long as they gave the money to a Pope? But it isn’t renting it.
    I am seriously thinking of retiring to a cave for the rest of my life.

  8. MariaKap says:

    I was hoping that was the Eye of the Tiber. But no. CNN reporting. Lord have mercy.

  9. John V says:

    “A Porsche church, and for the Porsche.”

  10. pseudomodo says:

    Yeah, and the tours through the chapel (where the guards demand SILENCIO) are not ‘visible’ for private groups…

    I’ll remember to bring a reciept showing I paid some cash for the privilege of looking at my keychain flashlight model of a Bugatti Veyron. BTW, I don’t think the CofE would rent out Westminster Abbey do you think?

    “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

    – Richard Nixon

  11. Nicholas says:

    Vestments made by Nike might actually be a good prepping tool for priests.

    Just a thought.

  12. vetusta ecclesia says:

    When I was last there the ghastly zookeepers kept on shushing people. I was told that this was not to preserve sacred dignity but to minimise CO2 emissions! Plenty of those at a photo shoot!

  13. Urget_nos says:

    Up next: pope rents out St Peters for big-top circus event, proceeds to go to charity.
    Followed by: American Cardinal rents out his cathedral church to political party for fundraiser, proceeds to go to charity.
    This leads to – what?
    The old adage comes to mind: ‘a man at a party asks a woman if she will sleep with him for a million dollars, she agrees, then he asks if she will do the same for $10 and she retorts ‘what do you think I am, a prostitute’, to which he responds: that has already been established, now we are simply negotiating the price.

  14. Eugene says:

    There are many things I could write, but I am beyond understanding anything the Vatican does anymore so I will just refrain myself and offer my anger, disgust and disappointment to Our Lord in atonement for my sins and the conversion of all sinners especially abortionists.
    Mark 11:15-18New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
    Jesus Cleanses the Temple
    15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; 16 and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,
    ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?
    But you have made it a den of robbers.”

  15. iPadre says:

    It’s interesting they won’t let you take pictures in the chapel. But when you have a big checkbook anything is possible!

  16. cregduff says:

    But father, but father!! Why is this so wrong!? You hate Vatican II so much, you meany! Have you no mercy! [That’s the spirit! You are really getting into it!]

    Why shouldn’t the pope use the patrimony of the Holy See to sell tickets and raise money for the poor – you traditionalist, intellectual ideologues hate the poor, don’t you! Have some compassion!
    It’s not as if this space isn’t already being used for non-religious functions; the Vatican Museums run shorter tours thru here all day long, and besides, there’s even business meetings and elections of corporate officers held here from time to time, gatherings of international repute even!

    Why, come to think of it, couldn’t this room also be used to pastorally welcome and gradually accept more of those often on the periphery, for weddings and blessings, as I am sure was tolerated in the past? We know it’s been used in recent years for baptisms, why not weddings again? Maybe Archbishop Forte and Cardinal Kasper could work on that angle as a proposal to be taken up at next year’s Synod.

    Too soon?

  17. jbpolhamus says:

    Weird. I think it would have been more appropriate if they’d been making the donation for the sake of holding a private mass there “for the intentions of the Holy Father” or something, rather than just rubbernecking. But at least it wasn’t for a “corporate meeting” or some-such blatantly secular purpose. Still…a bit weird.

  18. Matt Robare says:

    So capitalism is bad, except when it isn’t?

  19. Franko says:

    It’s ironic to me that the Pope who is lauded time and again as an egalitarian man of the people is also the first Pope to rent out a sacred space like this to wealthy vacationers. While his ultimate goal may be to raise money for charity, it also shows what I believe is a lack of respect for the history and landmarks of the Church.

    I understand that the artwork is in danger of deterioration however I am baffled that this Vatican’s solution to that problem is to rent it out to wealthy people at 6000 bucks a head. It’s just completely baffling.

    So how long until Christ drives these money changers from his Father’s house?

  20. PA mom says:

    “Corporations are people too”. :)

    On the bright side, a corporation would be far less likely to build or place their endorsement on a sacred space which was hideously ugly. Stop that movement right in its tracks…

  21. Winfield says:

    A poor Church for the poor? Like Porsche. For centuries cynics have sneered that the Church should sell her magnificent buildings, art, etc, and give the money to the poor. The original complaint along those lines was made by Judas, but naturally this is nothing like that. At all.

    But who could dislike flashing ads on vestments, or a big Nike swoosh or funeral home ads in place of felt banners?

  22. Rich says:

    I can’t believe this isn’t satire. I kept having to check and double-check to make sure I wasn’t reading The Eye of the Tiber.

  23. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Father Zuhlsdorf,

    Usually you have some tag line when you’re publishing satire. This time you omitted any obvious clues that this is satire. Think of the field day some of our more agitated brethren will have. I figured out that it was satire because the relatio from the Synod reminded us not to take the bait of coming down off the cross.

  24. greinkebs says:

    What’s next renting the Papal Apartments – bed and breakfast?

  25. Sonshine135 says:

    Father, if I didn’t actually click on the link I would have thought this was an Eye of the Tiber article. Lord have mercy on all of us!

  26. Christ-Bearer says:

    [Not like Masses, or anything like that.]

    Yeah, someone please rent the Sistine Chapel for a Solemn Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form! See how well that goes over….

  27. Fr. W says:

    I guess those evil/greedy/corporate/capitalists can be useful when we need them.

  28. mamajen says:

    It sounds like the event was at least respectful, but the whole idea rubs me the wrong way.

    Kasper and German bishops running amok, Synod on the Family happening, large German corporation donates money? Nothing to see here, move along…

    But at least this dispels the rumors/jokes that Pope Francis is keen to sell off the Vatican’s art collection. He’ll just let them sell access to it instead, apparently.

  29. Fr AJ says:

    Wow, I thought this was a joke…it’s not!

  30. Tim Ferguson says:

    I’ve imagined Cardinal Pell advertising for E. F. Hutton.

    When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.

  31. sw85 says:

    Our new “church of the poor” sure seems keen on cozying up to wealthy white Western divorcees and automobile manufacturers.

  32. Prayerful says:

    Both the Pope and Pope Emeritus have white robes. So much space for sponsor’s logo.

  33. boko fittleworth says:

    Is there anything German money can’t buy?

  34. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Just missing oxen, sheep, doves and, of course, a scourge.

  35. tcreek says:

    And the pope teaches that the Faithful should drive (or ride) in cheap little cars to show that they not obsessed with material things.
    “It is easier for a camel to go thru the eye of the needle than for a Porsche owner …”

  36. donboyle says:

    Porsche? There is no Sostituto.

    [Maybe had it been Bugatti…]

  37. MarkJ says:

    “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers.”

  38. Ignatius says:

    It is a “poor church” for the rich. Sort of…

  39. Kathleen10 says:

    The frescoes are so “fragile” that, in the article I read about this debacle, the Vatican was now limiting the visitors, you know, we the dirty masses who don’t pay anything, to six million per year. I guess the person after the six millionth gets thrown out on their neck. This is due to our nasty habit of breathing, which breaks down the frescoes, as I read it. The Porsche people must have held their breath the entire time they rented out the hall, and I’m sure the concert noise didn’t do any harm.
    This appears a way to assuage liberal guilt that the Vatican is “so wealthy” and we “ought to sell something and give it to the poor” etc. Rather than do that renting out the Sistine Chapel accomplishes the same thing. The Sistine Chapel for rent. Imagine that. Hey I wonder what might be gotten for some old relics?

  40. joecct77 says:

    If they put a bus in there, we all know who will be doing the sales pitch, won’t we? :)

  41. Suburbanbanshee says:

    First off, Vatican Radio says it is a Vatican Museums fundraiser, part of a series of fundraising concerts called The Art of Charity. Anybody could buy a ticket, but Porsche apparently got there first and bought tickets for their guests.

    Vatican Museums and the Vatican Library run a lot of special access fundraisers, stuff for being s friend of the museum or library, etc. Usually it is tours and pilgrimages that glom onto these opportunities, as the company just pays the friends membership dues for everyone as part of the tour cost.

  42. michael says:

    I read in the UK’s Catholic Herald that the infamous Justin Beiber paid ~$20,000 (€16K) for a private tour of the Vatican wherein, although reprimanded, proceeded to kick around a soccer ball through the halls of the papal apartments . Coupled with the Porsche story, seems like the “money changers” are having their day in the temple.

  43. HeatherPA says:

    I thought this was an “Onion” piece.

  44. Paul Young says:

    I hope the event wasn’t spoiled by a some zealot overturning the displays and driving out the exhibitors.

  45. ckdexterhaven says:

    Coca Cola could pay to have a Coke painted on the ceiling. God giving Adam a Coke…and a smile?

  46. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Let’s cut through all this mumbo-jumbo about the divorced-and-remarried, same-sex unions, etc.

    Nancy Pelosi buys Communion with millions of taxpayer dollars. Let’s just sell the Host to EVERYBODY at a flat rate. Five dollars seems about right. That’s a lot less than the Germans pay.

    And for those who grumble about “selling a sacrament,” we have been provided with the perfect squelcher by a Vatican spokesman: “The Holy Eucharist is not a commercial object.”

  47. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The Vatican Library digitization fundraiser was called Digito Ergo Sum. The dinner was held in the Sistine Hall, which is what used to be the Vatican Library first – the room with all the bookpresses and the columns with murals of saints and scholars? Anyway, you can see pictures of the attendees at under “Events”/”Gallery”. There’s a picture of the dinner table set. Google and tons of other companies and rich people sponsored the event.

    So yeah, if you want to see behind the scholarly scenes, giving a lot of money is one good way. It was that way at my university’s library and archives, too.

  48. Cantor says:

    Perhaps, Father, you might gather “a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition” each of whom might contribute $5900 dollars…?

  49. Charliebird says:

    yes, HeatherPA

    I thought…”it isn’t April, is it? Fr. Z pulls out stories like this from his imagination…crazy imagination…for April Fool’s!”

    Still in disbelief…

  50. Son of Trypho says:

    Tasteless, and what makes it worse is that they only charged $5900. At least get some serious money for charity if you’re going to sell your cultural patrimony.

  51. z4g.mug says:

    “It was the first time any Pope agreed to rent the chapel out for a corporate event.
    The Vatican rejects that description.”

    ## Of course it does. Reality is not what it is, but what the Vatican says it is. If the Vatican says the Church is undergoing renewal”, then it is undergoing renewal – even if, to the unitiated, the thing is a “devastated vineyard”. The “accelerated decomposition of Catholicism” ? That’s the “messiness” of the “New Pentecost”; only those whom the Pope delights to insult with the gems from his “Little Book of Insults” will find fault with it. This is the mentality that is able to see a less than Saintly scandaliser & wrecker of the Church like Paul VI as fit for beatification. Simony by the German episcopate ? Not a problem.

    Metaphysically, this is the eclipse of the moderate Realism of St Thomas by a further dose of Nominalism – this time, however, espoused, & lived, by the very authority charged by Christ with feeding His sheep & His lambs.

    It gets worse. These people are so far removed from reality, that one, a Cardinal no less, can honestly claim to have been misrepresented, even when his words have been taped. Not only is truth infinitely malleable – such a man is unable to see that he has uttered what most sane bystanders as a lie. This type of innocence is in some ways more terrifying than anything else – for how can men with such an outlook be fit to be priests ? At least men like Alexander VI & his cardinals, for all their vices, recognised that their lives disgraced their office; but their modern counterparts cannot see even that. They really believe that their destruction of the Faith & their moral relativism are Catholic.

  52. The Cobbler says:

    It sounds like it wasn’t so much a corporation “not renting” the chapel for its own thing as the Vatican hosting a charity fundraiser in the chapel that happens to be coordinated with a corporation… So, not so much trying to do business with the rich as trying to use the Church’s art to get the rich to donate to charity, or something along those lines. Still not sure that’s entirely right; certainly encouraging people to donate to charity is good, but you’d think the Church’s art is for the glorification of God and the enrichment of her members, maybe even humanity at large, and not merely a tool to be used on the rich.

    It’s also a little ironic given the comments Pope Francis has made about becoming a charitable NGO, or given this point made by another commenter: “What most struck me about this is Nicolini saying they are directing this at big companies. Would those be the same big companies upon which they try to pin the great evils of the world, like capitalism and youth unemployment?”

  53. Suburbanbanshee says:

    My Girl Scout council once had a “camp-in” event at the state capital’s science museum. We had private tours and activities, and at night we had a box meal and movies, and then more private museum time before it opened. And it was pricey. Made the museum lots of operating funds every year, not to mention girls who would grow up to give money.

    Was that a sacrilege against science too? Were we evil and privileged?

    It is a shame that not everyone gets to go behind the scenes, but Vatican Museums is not Disney to put all the restorers behind observation glass.

    And there are quite a few papal palaces, past and present, that do allow visitors on a normal basis. And if Justin Bieber donated a chunk to keep the roof on, why would it be wrong to give him a tour of an area where the Pope does not even live or work anymore? A fair number of visitors apparently go there without any donation, just by getting lost or by sneaking in on purpose.

    Nor would it be the first time anybody played football in Vatican rooms or hallways.

  54. Cradle Catholic says:

    I also thought it was a joke… renting out the Sistine Chapel to Porsche… can the people in the Vatican not see the incongruency of this with Pope Francis’ statements about a ‘Church for the Poor’? Not to mention how inappropriate ( an understatement) it is to rent out the Sistine Chapel.

    By the way, David Warren, who is a regular writer for The Catholic Thing wrote an insightful essay today about this… and about Pope Francis. I liked the way he ended his essay. If Fr. Z allows it, I’m including the link to the essay here:

  55. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The basic problem here is that people are mistaking the $3 coffee mug as having been bought by the $30 donation. Running a tour or a concert is a nice gift, but the donations are keeping the roof and the paint on the walls. If you don’t want so many fundraising events, then give straight up anonymous donations and say no to the mug and the totebag.

  56. KateD says:

    Re: not being able to take pictures…didn’t Fuji get the rights to the images in the Sistine Chapel for a period of time in exchange for paying for the restoration? Might this be the reason for no photos?

    Our pilgrimage had a private tour of the Sistine Chapel and the Scavi. It was a reasonably priced Franciscan pilgrimage, nothing extravagant. I wanted to take a group a couple of years later and called to inquire about the cost and availability for a private tour, it was not horribly expensive. Perhaps Catholic pilgrims get a break? At any rate, it’s nice to have that period of time to just sit and be in the chapel, admire the artwork. I don’t begrudge rich people paying more for a private tour, especially if it’s going to a good cause. I could understand throwing a fundraiser in the Sistine Hall and then allowing for touring of the chapel… that possibly what happened?

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  58. Elizabeth D says:

    Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick, I do not know what you are talking about, but the traditional price is 20 pieces of silver.

  59. HeatherPA says:

    After a night to think about this, it still makes me wince.
    I guess the Holy Father is doing his part to “refine and purify” us, as he makes it increasingly difficult to explain his actions and his words (and lack of words). I offer it all up and hope my Purgatory one is shorter, please.

  60. GOR says:

    Obviously Pope Francis was not made aware of this or he would have insisted on equal time for Fiat or Renault.

    As to advertisements in odd places, my wife has repeatedly said that if I die before her she is selling the house immediately…

    I suggested putting a “House for Sale” sign on the hearse…

  61. Tridentine Catholic says:

    Greinkebs says:
    “What’s next renting the Papal Apartments – bed and breakfast?”
    Please don’t give the Bishop of Rome any other ideas.
    Though, with the way things are going it would not surprise me to see a Vatican Garage Sale where all the treasures of the Pontiff’s Sacristy are going for bargain prices and the proceeds going to various leftest causes.
    Post Scriptum: No doubt all the post Vatican II / Modernist ugly stuff would be kept as “priceless” relics.

  62. This story (which really does not bother me all that much in the light of the explanation) has got the wag / troublemaker in me thinking…

    What if someone or some group with the wherewithal were to ask to “rent the facility” for, say, a Pontifical Mass? Celebrated, perhaps, by one Bishop Fellay, if the offer would be willingly accepted? Or would they suddenly have “scheduling conflicts” or “ongoing historic preservation issues” which would make the Chapel unavailable for such an event?

    I’d bet that, were the ultimate decision to be made by His Holiness, the event would go on, and he may even be in attendance. Left up to “fruits of The Council” faction in the bureaucracy, definitely not.

  63. Amateur Scholastic says:

    I second Cradle Catholic’s recommendation for David Warren (he posted the link, I’m not going to). Warren is first class, one of the most educated men I’ve ever encountered, and a genuine conservative.

  64. Amateur Scholastic says:

    And by the way, Catholics who think the loss of the Papal States was such a great thing may want to reflect on the annual revenue that they would have provided

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