Today I stopped by the Basilica of St. Mary Major while I was out running some errands. Armed with my cell phone (and its less-than-mediocre camera), I took some photos to share. A view as I approached:
Inside I was surprised to find its great “Sistine Chapel” open – I don’t recall ever having seen it open on my prior visits. It is towards the back on the right side. A shot of the ceiling:
The chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus V (Sixtus in Italian = Sisto, whence “Sistine”). He did not live to see it built. But he wanted it to be the mausoleum for him and his successor (Pius V). The chapel was built during the years 1587-1589. Here is the tomb of Pope St. Pius V, at which I prayed for all of you:
This chapel is officially the Blessed Sacrament chapel of the Basilica (though I don’t think the Sacrament was actually reserved there when I was there today; it was hard to tell). So it has a monumental tabernacle in the center of it:
Finally, here is a shot of the chapel exterior, by which you can see how it was added on to the already-existing Basilica. In other words, it wasn’t merely an ancient chapel that they renovated/baroquified:
The “other” Sistine Chapel, which we all know so well (see my post about it here) – located across town in the Vatican – was named for a different Sixtus – Pope Sixtus IV.