Texas Catholics dedicate resources to the restoration of Blessed Shrine

May 12, 2015

VATICAN — In the Vatican Gardens, situated on a hilltop over-looking Rome, lies a very special shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The shrine, a gift from Mexico to Pope Pius XII, depicts Juan Diego wearing a vestment revealing the sacred image of the virgin as she appeared to him, and kneeling before Juan Diego is the Franciscan Bishop Juan de Zumaraga bowing down as a witness to the miracle of the beautiful, sacred image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

Seventy-six years of exposure to the elements has taken its toll on the beautiful monument. However, a group of Texans, members of the Texas Chapter of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican, are committed to the restoration of the shrine, eventually bringing it back to its former glory. 
“We chose to dedicate our resources to the preservation and restoration of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine because she has a special place in the hearts of our Texas Patrons,” said Mark Hotze, president of the Texas Chapter of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums. “She is the Patroness of the Americas and many of our members have visited Mexico City to view the tilma on which the sacred image of the Blessed Virgin is imprinted.”

The Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums was established in 1983 after a Vatican exhibit toured several museums in the U.S. 
“Many people who viewed the exhibit were impressed with the importance of saving these treasures of humanity,” explained Father Mark Haydu, L.C., international director of the organization. “The founders understood that they had a responsibility to make the experience they had available to others. They wanted to help in any way they could to make sure that the works were maintained, kept in good repair, and preserved so that their emotional and spiritual power and influence would never be tarnished.”

The organization is now divided into regional chapters, with each chapter dedicating its resources to a particular piece or pieces of work that are in need of restoration.

Identifying the art work in need of restoration is a detailed process. Expert curators from each department of the Vatican Museums, along with Antonio Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums, are consulted to see which pieces from every collection have a restoration priority. Those most in need of restoration are added to the Patrons’ “Wishbook.” From the book, each chapter selects the restoration project they want to support.

“Our patrons perform a sacred and blessed duty. It is their foresight and understanding of the importance of art preservation that allows us to do our work,” Father Haydu said. “Their donations go directly to preserve particular works of art that otherwise would go unattended. Out of the goodness of their hearts they donate their time, energy, prayers and financial assistance simply to the idea that our history, our culture, our religious understanding and the beauty of art is necessary to preserve.”

Hotze added, “The sacred artwork of the Vatican crosses generations, cultures, languages and religions. 

“Think about the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, the Pieta or the Last Judgment. After adults and children view these works many come away with what God is saying to them through the master pieces,” he said.

In addition to the restoration of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, the Texas Chapter of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums and its members have contributed to the preservation of the Scala Santa (a Pontifical Sanctuary), the Pauline Museum, a collection of bronzes from Ancient Ostia that are housed in the Profane Gregorian Museum, as well as various other individual pieces of art.

The organization offers several levels of membership: Individual membership is $600; family membership which includes children 18 and under is $1,200, and for patrons 35 and under, a junior membership is available for $250. 

Memberships includes special invitations to Texas Patrons events held in the Vatican and throughout the state, the opportunity to join other patrons on special trips to tour the museums and have dinners inside the museums after closing hours. Additionally, members have access to private tours of the Museums, complimentary admission to the Vatican Museums and the ability to tour areas in the Vatican Museums that are not open to the public.

Those interested in making a one-time donation to the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums can do so by visiting https://app.etapestry.com/hosted/PatronsoftheArtsintheVat_1/OnlineDonation.html

For more information about the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, visit www.texasvaticanpatrons.org.