Photos From the Pope’s Historic First Visit to the Venice Biennale

Though the Vatican has had a pavilion at the Venice Biennale since 2013, Pope Francis became the first pontiff to ever visit the international art event last weekend. This year’s Vatican Pavilion has raised eyebrows more than once before its opening — first when Mauricio Cattelan (the artist behind the infamous duct-taped banana) was tapped to create a work for the pavilion façade, and again when it was announced that the exhibition would take place at a women’s prison on the island of Giudecca.

Having stayed in Rome since September for health concerns, the 87-year-old Pope arrived at the prison by helicopter and met with the incarcerated women, who participate daily in the exhibition. Before his tour, he stressed to the women that they should reset their paths “brick upon brick, together, with determination.” He also noted that while prisons are rife with problems and violence that must be remedied, they “can also become a place of moral and material rebirth.”

See photos from the first papal visit to the Venice Biennale below.


Rhea Nayyar (she/her) is a New York-based teaching artist who is passionate about elevating minority perspectives within the academic and editorial spheres of the art world. Rhea received her BFA in Visual…
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