"I was given the rare opportunity to lift the veil of privacy for a privileged look inside the Vatican," writes photographer James L. Stanfield in his foreword to this book.
For nearly a year, seven days a week, Stanfield photographed virtually every corner of the 108.7-acre enclave that is both the world's smallest nation and the center of the world's largest religious body, the Roman Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II, the Roman Curia, the color and pomp of centuries-old ceremonies, the wondrous art and architecture, the daily lives of ordinary citizens -- all are part of Stanfield's unprecedented coverage.
Author Bart McDowell guides you through this extraordinary place. He begins with a historical perspective, going back to ancient times when the area, known as the Vaticanus, was a marshland infamous for snakes and malaria. In the fourth century, Emperor Constantine built a great basilica there, the first St. Peter's; around it grew a settlement that would become home to the popes and territorial base of the church for most of its succeeding history.
In subsequent chapters, McDowell explains the workings of the Holy See, the church's labyrinthine government. He introduces many of the people who make their living in the Vatican. And he takes you into one of the world's great collections of paintings, sculpture, manuscripts, and other treasures. In a final chapter he presents the modern popes, particularly the charismatic John Paul II.
Through beautiful and exclusive photographs and revealing text, Inside the Vatican celebrates a small, dynamic community unique in the world....Continua