A Protestant at the Vatican

01 December 2016 | by Christopher Lamb


Throughout his life Rembrandt was able to bridge the divides of Christianity. The Protestant son of a Catholic mother, he possessed a deep faith yet did not belong to any church; and though from northern Europe, he always drew heavily on Rome’s baroque tradition.

Now, almost 350 years after his death, the Dutch master is helping to heal the old wounds of religious schism, with his art on display for the first time in the Vatican.

He is, as the director of the Vatican Museums Antonio Paolucci described him at the launch of “Images from Heaven and Earth” (to 26 February), “a Protestant in the heart of the Roman Church”.

The show comes in the wake of the visit to Sweden by Pope Francis a few weeks ago, when he took part in events to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation; it was designed both to mark Francis’ trip to the country and help play a part in uniting Christians.

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