In Plain Sight

For A Homophobic Place, There’s A Lot Of Gay Art At The Vatican

Did Pope Francis get all mellow (well, by Vatican standards) about gayness because he took a tour through the Vatican art collection? Could be. It wouldn’t take long to realize that some of the Church’s greatest artistic glories are products of gay artists.

The UK Guardian has a nice rundown of all the masterpieces created for the Vatican by gay artists. Among the artistic masters that Church now celebrates:

  • Michelangelo. The Vatican is practically synonymous with the Sistine Chapel. But Michelangelo may have used his visits to the bathhouses as inspiration for the Chapel’s frescoes.
  • Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci’s portrait of St. Jerome has a prominent place in the Vatican museum, The artist himself was formally accused of sodomy when he was in his 20s.
  • Caravaggio. His paintings of St. Matthew in San Luigi dei Francesci are magnificent, but Caravaggio was rumored to have cut quite a swath through the gay quarters of Rome.

Now, “gay” as a concept didn’t really exist when these artists were working. But it’s impossible to look at their celebration of male beauty and not believe that their interest was more than academic.

As for the Vatican: as with all things gay, it’s perfectly happy to have them in plain site as long as it doesn’t have to acknowledge the God’s honest truth.