OCT. 2, 2010 – JAN. 9, 2011 Vatican Splendors: A Journey Through Faith and Art presented unique objects illustrating 2,000 years of art, history, and culture.

The Senator John Heinz History Center hosted Vatican Splendors: A Journey Through Faith and Art, a 10,000 square-foot exhibition presenting unique objects illustrating 2,000 years of art, history, and culture. The History Center was one of only three venues in North America to host this extraordinary exhibition.

Presented by Federated Investors, Inc. and UPMC, Vatican Splendors provided Americans with a rare opportunity to see artwork and objects from the collections of the Vatican.


As part of the Vatican Splendors exhibit, visitors also saw a special collection of Western Pennsylvania artifacts, including more than 70 seldom seen vestments, crosiers, chalices, monstrances, statues, and paintings.

The “Catholicism in Western Pennsylvania” collection was on loan from churches and archives throughout the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the region, the History Center’s archives, and the Andy Warhol Museum.

In conjunction with the Vatican Splendors exhibit, the History Center also displayed Angels of Mercy: Sisters in Healthcare in Western Pennsylvania, an exhibit highlighting the contributions of religious women to healthcare in this region, in the museum’s fourth floor Community Gallery.

The Vatican Splendors Cabinet, which was made up of community leaders, was co-chaired by J. Christopher Donahue and Martin G. McGuinn.

Exhibit Must-Sees

  • Original works by Michelangelo, as well as a first generation cast of the Pietà from St. Peter’s Basilica, alongside signed documents and personal objects used in work on the Sistine Chapel
  • Guercino’s c. 1622 “Portrait of Christ with Crown of Thorns” painting, the first modern representation of Jesus, that has never been on display at the Vatican
  • 17th century works by Bernini, including carved, gilded angels and a baroque urn depicting the Last Supper from the Basilica of Saint Mary Major
  • A reliquary containing the remains of Saint Peter and Saint Paul that has never been outside of the Vatican
  • Original frescoes of saints created between 1277-1280 at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls
  • Objects discovered at the tombs of Saint Peter and Saint Paul
  • A bronze Cast of the Hand of Pope John Paul II, which visitors are encouraged to touch during their visit, alongside a handwritten poem from John Paul II
  • Historical objects from the modern and ancient basilicas of Saint Peter’s in Rome