To celebrate the Holy Year of 2000 a new entrance to the Vatican Museums was created. In the grand entrance hall stands Varcare la Soglia (Crossing the Threshold), a sculpture by Giuliano Vangi (b. 1931). The title of the sculpture refers to both the physical threshold of the museum and the temporal threshold of the new millennium.
This striking work of art takes the form of a man breaking free from a block of marble. The marble bears images, in relief, of Pope John Paul II (r. 1978-2005), who officially opened the new entrance on February 7th, 2000.
In his address the pope declared: 'I cordially greet Giuliano Vangi, the sculptor of the work placed in this new entrance, and thank him, because his sculpture is not a celebratory work, but an invitation to reflection on the Petrine ministry to which Providence has called me. Since the first day of my Pontificate, I have been keenly aware of my mission to help men and women "cross the threshold": to escape from the constraints of materialism into the freedom of faith, the freedom to be themselves by following Christ the Redeemer, the supreme defender of their dignity and rights. This service to humanity has two elements which are portrayed on the two sides of the marble block: the element of action and, equally important, that of prayer. Indeed, in the face of human suffering, the Church finds in God the strength to spur man towards a future of hope and freedom'.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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