This one is the Pauline Chapel and it was constructed from 1538-1540. Michelangelo then painted some of the main frescoes in it.
This chapel, which is located on the other side of the great hall called the Sala Regia from the Sistine Chapel, is where the newly-elected Pope goes to pray after he has accepted his election and before he goes out onto the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to greet the crowds.
Pope Benedict XVI had this chapel restored. The Vatican now has a virtual tour of it online.
Here is the view towards the sanctuary:
On either side of the sanctuary are very old tapestries (which have also been restored). This one, on the right side, depicts Pentecost, very relevant since we just celebrated that feast in the past week:
On either side of the nave (main seating area), there are large frescoes painted by Michelangelo. This one, on the right side, depicts the crucifixion of St. Peter:
On the other side, there is this fresco of the conversion of St. Paul:
Always look up in an Italian church:
Leaving the chapel, I got to pass through the great Sala Regia:
In order to avoid the crowds streaming out of the Sistine Chapel (which we had to wade through to get to the Sala Regia on our way in), the Swiss Guard took us out by way of the Cortile San Damaso – the San Damasus Courtyard. This is the central courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, from which there is an elevator that goes up to the historic (not currently occupied) papal apartments. This is the courtyard where heads of state (like Obama) are often received before going up to meet with the Pope in his library.
The Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the tabernacle, so I knelt for a few moments of prayer, and prayed in a special way for all the people of the Diocese of Birmingham, since our diocese is dedicated to St. Paul.