The four Raphael Rooms (Italian: Stanze di Raffaello) form a suite of reception rooms in the palace, the public part of the papal apartments in the Palace of the Vatican. They are famous for their frescoes, painted by Raphael and his workshop. Together with Michelangelo's ceiling frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, they are the grand fresco sequences that mark the High Renaissance in Rome.
The Stanze, as they are commonly called, were originally intended as a suite of apartments for Pope Julius II. He commissioned Raphael, then a relatively young artist from Urbino, and his studio in 1508 or 1509 to redecorate the existing interiors of the rooms entirely. It was possibly Julius' intent to outshine the apartments of his predecessor (and rival) Pope Alexander VI, as the Stanze are directly above Alexander's Borgia Apartment. They are on the third floor, overlooking the south side of the Belvedere Courtyard.
Running from east to west, as a visitor would have entered the apartment, but not following the sequence in which the Stanze were frescoed, the rooms are the Sala di Costantino ("Hall of Constantine"), the Stanza di Eliodoro ("Room of Heliodorus"), the Stanza della Segnatura ("Room of the Signatura") and the Stanza dell'Incendio del Borgo ("The Room of the Fire in the Borgo").
After the death of Julius in 1513, with two rooms frescoed, Pope Leo X continued the program. Following Raphael's death in 1520, his assistants Gianfrancesco Penni, Giulio Romano and Raffaellino del Colle finished the project with the frescoes in the Sala di Costantino.
The scheme of the works is as follows:
|General view (I)||General view (II)||East wall||South wall||West wall||North wall||Ceiling|
|Room of the Segnatura|
|The School of Athens||Cardinal and Theological Virtues||Disputation of the Holy Sacrament||The Parnassus|
|Room of Heliodorus|
|The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple||The Mass at Bolsena||The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila||Deliverance of Saint Peter|
|Room of the Fire in the Borgo|
|Battle of Ostia||The Fire in the Borgo||The Coronation of Charlemagne||The Oath of Leo III|
|Hall of Constantine|
|The Vision of the Cross||The Battle of the Milvian Bridge||The Baptism of Constantine||The Donation of Constantine|
The largest of the twelve rooms is the Sala di Costantino ("Hall of Constantine"). Its paintings were not begun until Pope Julius and, indeed Raphael himself, had died. The room is dedicated to the victory of Christianity over paganism. Its frescoes represent this struggle from the life of the Roman Emperor Constantine, and are the work of Giulio Romano, Gianfrancesco Penni and Raffaellino del Colle. Because they are not by the master himself, the frescos are less famous than works in the neighboring rooms. Continuing a long tradition of flattery, Raphael's assistants gave the features of the current pontiff, Clement VII, to Pope Sylvester in the paintings.
The fresco of The Vision of the Cross depicts the legendary story of a great cross appearing to Constantine as he marched to confront his rival Maxentius. The vision in the sky is painted with the words in Greek "Εν τούτω νίκα" ("By this, conquer", better known as the Latin In hoc signo vinces) written next to it.
The Battle of Milvian Bridge shows the battle that took place on October 28, 312, following Constantine's vision.
The third painting in the sequence, The Baptism of Constantine, was most likely painted by Gianfrancesco Penni, and shows the emperor being baptised by Pope Sylvester I in the Lateran Baptistery at Rome, following the account of Constantine's baptism given in the Acts of Sylvester and the Liber Pontificalis (and not the different deathbed version recounted in Eusebius's Life of Constantine).
The final painting in the sequence, The Donation of Constantine, records an event that supposedly took place shortly after Constantine's baptism, and was inspired by the famous forged documents, incorporated into Gratian's Decretum, granting the Papacy sovereignty over Rome's territorial dominions.
The next room, going from East to West, is the Stanza di Eliodoro ("Room of Heliodorus"). Painted between 1511 and 1514, it takes its name from one of the paintings. The theme of this private chamber – probably an audience room – was the heavenly protection granted by Christ to the Church. The four paintings are: The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple, The Mass at Bolsena, The Meeting of Pope Leo I and Attila, and The Deliverance of Saint Peter from Prison. In the first two of these frescoes, Raphael flatteringly includes his patron, Pope Julius II, as participant or observer; the third, painted after Julius's death, includes a portrait of his successor, Leo X.
Raphael's style changed here from the Stanza della Segnatura. Instead of the static images of the Pope's library, he had dramatic narratives to portray, and his approach was to maximize the frescoes' expressive effects. He represented fewer, larger figures so that their actions and emotions have more direct impact on the viewers, and he used theatrical lighting effects to spotlight certain figures and heighten tension.
In The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple Raphael illustrated the biblical episode from II Maccabees (3:21–28) about Heliodorus, who was sent to seize the treasure preserved in the Temple in Jerusalem, but was stopped when the prayer of the priest of the temple was answered by angels who flogged the intruder and an angelic rider who chased him from the temple. The composition is considerably more dramatic than Raphael's earlier frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura. Although the focal point is the still figure of the priest at prayer, Heliodorus and the angels rush forward into space, threatening to spill out of the painting. At the left Julius II, carried by the Swiss Guard in a chair, witnesses the event. His inclusion here refers to his battles to prevent secular leaders from usurping papal territories.
The Mass at Bolsena depicts the story of a Bohemian priest who in 1263 ceased to doubt the doctrine of Transubstantiation when he saw the bread begin to bleed during its consecration at Mass. The cloth that was stained by the blood was held as a relic at the nearby town of Orvieto; Julius II had visited Orvieto and prayed over the relic in 1506. The Pope is portrayed as a participant in the Mass and a witness to the miracle; he kneels to the right of the altar, with members of the Curia (also portraits) standing behind him. Raphael distinguishes the "real" thirteenth-century witnesses from those who are contemporaries of the pope by their degree of engagement in the event; the latter concentrate calmly on Julius kneeling at his devotions rather than responding to the miracle.
The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila depicts the storied parley between the Pope and the Hun conqueror, and includes the legendary images of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the sky bearing swords. A fully developed drawing by Raphael indicates he planned to place the pope – portrayed with Julius's features – in the background; when Leo X became pope – and just happened to choose the name Leo – he must have encouraged the artist to bring the pope front and center and use his own portrait.
The Deliverance of Saint Peter shows, in three episodes, how Saint Peter was liberated from prison by an angel, as described in Acts 12. It symbolizes the power of the Vicar of Christ to escape human restraints. Julius II's titular church as cardinal, before he was elevated to the papacy, had been S. Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains), so the painting is at once a general reference to the papacy and a specific reference to Julius. The fresco is a study in light: natural moonlight, man-made torchlight, and God-provided angel light. It is the latter, of course, that outshines the others.
The Stanza della segnatura ("Room of the Signatura") was the first to be decorated by Raphael's frescoes. It was the study housing the library of Julius II, in which the Signatura of grace tribunal was originally located. The artist's concept brings into harmony the spirits of Antiquity and Christianity and reflects the contents of the pope's library with themes of theology, philosophy, jurisprudence, and the poetic arts, represented in tondi above the lunettes of the walls. The theme of this room is worldly and spiritual wisdom and the harmony which Renaissance humanists perceived between Christian teaching and Greek philosophy. The theme of wisdom is appropriate as this room was the council chamber for the Apostolic Signatura, where most of the important papal documents were signed and sealed.
The first composition Raphael executed between 1509 and 1510 was the Disputation of the Holy Sacrament, the traditional name for what is really an Adoration of the Sacrament. In the painting, Raphael created an image of the church, which is presented as spanning both heaven and earth.
Raphael completed the second composition between 1509 and 1511. It represents The Parnassus, the dwelling place of the god Apollo and the Muses and the home of poetry, according to classical myth. In the fresco Apollo and the muses are surrounded by poets from antiquity and Raphael's own time.
Between 1509 and 1511, Raphael also completed another work on the wall opposite the Disputa. This third painting, entitled The School of Athens, represents the degrees of knowledge or the truth acquired through reason. The fresco's position as well as the philosophers' walk in direction of the Holy Sacrament on the opposite wall suggested the interpretation of the whole room as the movement from the classical philosophy to the true religion and from the pre-Christian world to Christianity. It was meant to reside over the philosophical section of Pope Julius II's library. It is perhaps Raphael's most famous fresco.
The two scenes on the fourth wall, executed by the workshop, and the lunette above it, containing the Cardinal Virtues, were painted in 1511. The Cardinal Virtues allegorically presents the virtues of fortitude, prudence and temperance alongside charity, faith, and hope.
The Stanza dell'incendio del Borgo was named for the Fire in the Borgo fresco which depicts Pope Leo IV making the sign of the cross to extinguish a raging fire in the Borgo district of Rome near the Vatican. This room was prepared as a music room for Julius' successor, Leo X. The frescos depict events from the lives of Popes Leo III and Leo IV. The other paintings in the room are The Oath of Leo III, The Coronation of Charlemagne by Leo III, and The Battle of Ostia. Though the Fire in the Borgo was based on Raphael's mature designs it was executed by his assistants, who painted the other three paintings without his guidance.
The Fire in the Borgo shows an event that is documented in the Liber Pontificalis: a fire that broke out in the Borgo in Rome in 847. According to the Catholic Church, Pope Leo IV contained the fire with his benediction.
The Apostolic Palace (Latin: Palatium Apostolicum; Italian: Palazzo Apostolico) is the official residence of the pope, the head of the Catholic Church, located in Vatican City. It is also known as the Papal Palace, the Palace of the Vatican and the Vatican Palace. The Vatican itself refers to the building as the Palace of Sixtus V, in honor of Pope Sixtus V, who built most of the present form of the palace.
The building contains the Papal Apartments, various offices of the Catholic Church and the Holy See, private and public chapels, Vatican Museums, and the Vatican Library, including the Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms, and Borgia Apartment. The modern tourist can see these last and other parts of the palace, but other parts, such as the Sala Regia and Cappella Paolina, are closed to tourists. The Scala Regia can be viewed from one end but not entered.Battle of Ostia (Raphael's painting)
The Battle of Ostia (Battaglia di Ostia) is a painting by the workshop of the Italian renaissance artist Raphael. The painting was part of Raphael's commission to decorate the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. It is located in the room that was named after The Fire in the Borgo, the Stanza dell'incendio del Borgo and was inspired by the naval battle fought in 849 between the Saracens and a Christian League of Papal, Neapolitan and Gaetan ships. In the painting Pope Leo IV, with the features of Pope Leo X, is giving thanks after the Arab ships were destroyed by a storm.Cardinal and Theological Virtues (Raphael)
The Cardinal and Theological Virtues is a lunette fresco by Raphael found on the south wall of the Stanza della Segnatura in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican. Three of the cardinal virtues are personified as statuesque women seated in a bucolic landscape and the theological virtues are depicted by putti. The fresco was a part of Raphael's commission to decorate the private apartments of Pope Julius II. These rooms are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello. After completing his three monumental frescoes Disputation of the Holy Sacrament, The Parnassus, and The School of Athens in the Stanza della Segnatura, Raphael painted the Cardinal and Theological Virtues in 1511.Deliverance of Saint Peter
The Liberation of Saint Peter is a fresco painting by the Italian High Renaissance artist Raphael. It was painted in 1514 as part of Raphael's commission to decorate with frescoes the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. It is located in the Stanza di Eliodoro, which is named after The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple. The painting shows how Saint Peter was liberated from Herod's prison by an angel, as described in Acts 12. It is technically an overdoor.
The fresco shows three scenes in symmetrical balance formed by the feigned architecture and stairs. In the centre the angel wakes Peter, and on the right guides him past the sleeping guards. On the left side one guard has apparently noticed the light generated by the angel and wakes a comrade, pointing up to the miraculously illumined cell. This adds drama to the serene exit of Peter at the right.Disputation of the Holy Sacrament
The Disputation of the Sacrament (Italian: La disputa del sacramento), or Disputa, is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael. It was painted between 1509 and 1510 as the first part of Raphael's commission to decorate with frescoes the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. At the time, this room was known as the Stanza della Segnatura, and was the private papal library where the supreme papal tribunal met.List of paintings by Raphael
The following is a list of paintings by Italian Renaissance painter Raphael. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period. He was enormously prolific, despite his early death at 37, and a large body of work remains, especially in the Vatican, where Raphael and the large team under his direction, executing his drawings frescoed the Raphael Rooms known as the Stanze. He was extremely influential in his lifetime, but after his death the influence of his great rival Michelangelo was more widespread until the 18th and 19th centuries, when his more tranquil qualities were again widely taken as models.The Baptism of Constantine
The Baptism of Constantine is a painting by assistants of the Italian renaissance artist Raphael. It was most likely painted by Gianfrancesco Penni, between 1517 and 1524.
After the master's death in 1520, Penni worked together with other members of Raphael's workshop to finish the commission to decorate with frescoes the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The Baptism of Constantine is located in the Sala di Costantino ("Hall of Constantine"). In the painting the Emperor Constantine the Great is depicted kneeling down to receive the sacrament from Pope Sylvester I in the Baptistery of the St John Lateran. The painter has given Sylvester the traits of Clement VII, the Pope who had ordered the frescoes to be finished, after the work was interrupted during the papacy of Hadrian VI.
While attempting the control and serenity typical of the High Renaissance, the crowded scene demonstrates the Mannerist tendency towards complexity and discordance.The Battle of the Milvian Bridge (Giulio Romano)
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge, or The Battle at Pons Milvius, is a fresco in one of the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican depicting the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.The Coronation of Charlemagne
The Coronation of Charlemagne is a painting by the workshop of the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael. Though it is believed that Raphael did make the designs for the composition, the fresco was probably painted by Gianfrancesco Penni. The painting was part of Raphael's commission to decorate the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. It is located in the room that was named after The Fire in the Borgo, the Stanza dell'incendio del Borgo. The painting shows how Charlemagne was crowned Imperator Romanorum by Pope Leo III (pontiff from 795 to 816) on Christmas Evening, 800. It is quite likely that the fresco refers to the Concordat of Bologna, negotiated between the Holy See and the kingdom of France in 1515, since Leo III is in fact a portrait of Leo X and Charlemagne a portrait of Francis I.The Donation of Constantine (painting)
The Donation of Constantine or Donation of Rome is a painting by assistants of the Italian renaissance artist Raphael. It was most likely painted by Gianfrancesco Penni or Giulio Romano, somewhere between 1520 and 1524. After the master's death in 1520, they worked together with other members of Raphael's workshop to finish the commission to decorate with frescoes the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The Donation of Constantine is located in the Sala di Costantino ("Hall of Constantine"). It was inspired by the famous forged documents that supposedly granted the Popes sovereignty over Rome's territorial dominions.
The painting depicts an apocryphal historical event: Emperor Constantine kneels before Pope Sylvester I and offers the Pope and his successors control of the city of Rome and the entire Western Roman Empire. The depiction of Sylvester is modeled after Pope Clement VII who became pope in 1523. The painting (anachronistically) shows the interior of the original Saint Peter's Basilica, which was in the process of being rebuilt at the time the painting was made. In the center background of the painting is the altar with its twisted, Solomonic columns. These columns were a gift from Constantine who supposedly took them from the ruined Jewish temple.The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple
The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple is a fresco of the Italian renaissance painter Raphael. It was painted between 1511 and 1513 as part of Raphael's commission to decorate with frescoes the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. It is located in the room that takes its name from it, the Stanza di Eliodoro.
The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple illustrates the biblical episode from 2 Maccabees (3:21-28). Heliodorus is ordered by Seleucus IV Philopator, the king of Syria, to seize the treasure preserved in the Temple in Jerusalem. Answering the prayers of the high priest Onias, God sends a horseman assisted by two youths to drive Heliodorus out.
At the left, Raphael's patron, Julius II witnesses the scene from his litter. The money had been reserved for widows and orphans and a priest had seen and prayed and God sent down a horseman to drive him from the temple. The composition is divided into two halves, in the centre is the priest praying and the priest looks much like Julius II. On the right is the horseman fighting Heliodorus. The menorah by the priest in the centre shows that this is set BC and it is authentic. On the left are widows and orphans grouped together and Julius II is being carried on a throne, witnessing this event. The message of the fresco is “don’t steal from the church”. The architecture begs comparison with the school of Athens, although the Domes in “The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple” are much richer and are gilded and highly decorated.The Fire in the Borgo
The Fire in the Borgo is a painting created by the workshop of the Italian renaissance artist Raphael. Though it is assumed that Raphael did make the designs for the complex composition, the fresco was most likely painted by his assistant Giulio Romano. The painting was part of Raphael's commission to decorate the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. It depicts Pope Leo IV halting a fire in 847 with a benediction from a balcony in front of the Old St. Peter's Basilica. The mural lends its name to the Stanza dell'incendio del Borgo ("The Room of the Fire in the Borgo").The Mass at Bolsena
The Mass at Bolsena is a painting by the Italian renaissance artist Raphael. It was painted between 1512 and 1514 as part of Raphael's commission to decorate with frescoes the rooms that are now known as the Raphael Rooms, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. It is located in the Stanza di Eliodoro, which is named after The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple.
The Mass at Bolsena depicts an Eucharistic miracle that is said to have taken place in 1263 at the church of Santa Cristina in Bolsena. A Bohemian priest who doubted the doctrine of transubstantiation, was celebrating mass at Bolsena, when the bread of the eucharist began to bleed. The blood that spouted from the host and fell onto the tablecloth in the shape of a cross and he was reconverted. The following year, in 1264, Pope Urban IV instituted the Feast of Corpus Christi to celebrate this miraculous event. The blood stained Corporal of Bolsena is still venerated as a major relic in the Orvieto Cathedral.
Present in this painting is a self-portrait of the artist, Raphael, as one of the Swiss Guard in the lower right of the fresco, facing out with bound-up hair. This is one of several instances in which Raphael has placed himself in his paintings. Also shown in the work is Pope Julius II (1443–1513), kneeling at the right, and his daughter Felice della Rovere, shown on the left at the bottom of the steps, in profile, in dark clothes. The four cardinals to the right have also been identified as Leonardo Grosso della Rovere, Raffaello Riario, Tommaso Riario and Agostino Spinola, relatives of Julius.The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila
The Meeting of Leo I and Attila is a fresco by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael and his assistant Giulio Romano. It was painted in 1514 as part of Raphael's commission to decorate the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. It is located in the Stanza di Eliodoro, which is named after The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple.
The painting depicts the meeting between the Pope Leo I and Attila the Hun, and includes the images of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the sky bearing swords. Initially, Raphael depicted Leo I with the face of Pope Julius II but after Julius' death, Raphael changed the painting to resemble the new pope, Leo X.The Oath of Leo III
The Oath of Leo III is a painting by the workshop of the Italian renaissance artist Raphael. The painting was part of Raphael's commission to decorate the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. It is located in the room that was named after The Fire in the Borgo, the Stanza dell'incendio del Borgo. In the fresco, Pope Leo III is seen during the trial on December 23 AD 800 during which he was brought face to face with the nephews of his predecessor Pope Hadrian I, who had accused him of misconduct. The assembled bishops declared that they could not judge the pope, after which Leo took an oath of purgation of his own free will.The Parnassus
The Parnassus is a fresco painting by the Italian High Renaissance artist Raphael in the Raphael Rooms ("Stanze di Raffaello"), in the Palace of the Vatican in Rome, painted at the commission of Pope Julius II. It was probably the second wall of the Stanza della Segnatura to be painted between 1509 and 1511, after La Disputa and before The School of Athens, which occupy other walls of the room.The School of Athens
The School of Athens (Italian: Scuola di Atene) is a fresco by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael. It was painted between 1509 and 1511 as a part of Raphael's commission to decorate the rooms now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The Stanza della Segnatura was the first of the rooms to be decorated, and The School of Athens, representing Philosophy, was probably the third painting to be finished there, after La Disputa (Theology) on the opposite wall, and the Parnassus (Literature). The picture has long been seen as "Raphael's masterpiece and the perfect embodiment of the classical spirit of the Renaissance".The Vision of the Cross
The Vision of the Cross is a painting made between 1520 and 1524 by assistants of the Italian renaissance artist Raphael. After the master's death in 1520, Gianfrancesco Penni, Giulio Romano and Raffaellino del Colle from Raphael's workshop worked together to finish the commission to decorate with frescoes the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.
The Vision of the Cross is located in the Sala di Costantino ("Hall of Constantine"). In the painting, emperor Constantine I is seen just before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312. According to legend, a cross appeared to Constantine in the sky, after which as seen in the fresco and following Eusebius of Caesarea Vita Constantini, he adopted the Greek motto "Εν τούτῳ νίκα", i.e. "By this, conquer", a motto that has been rendered in Latin as "In hoc signo vinces", i.e. "In this sign you shall conquer".
This Mannerist painting is a crowded and confused melee and melange of images, including a dragon, a dwarf, two popes, and various symbols. Proportions among the soldiers appear confused, with some dwarfed by more distant figures.Tourism in Vatican City
Vatican City, a quarter of a square mile (0.44 km2) in area, is a popular destination for tourists, especially Catholics wishing to see the Pope or to celebrate their faith. The main tourist attractions in Vatican City are focused in religious tourism and city tourism, including the visit to the Basilica of St. Peter, Saint Peter's Square, the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and the Raphael Rooms.The largest numbers of pilgrims visit Vatican City at special moments in the liturgical year, such as Christmas or Easter, or during important periods such as the proclamation of a holy year or the funeral and election of a pope.
Tourism is one of the principal sources of revenue in the economy of Vatican City. In 2007 about 4.3 million tourists visited the Vatican Museums alone. Tourism is the main cause of the Vatican's unusually high crime rate: tourists are blamed for various minor thefts and incidents.
Museums and art galleries in Rome