Exhibition | 29 June - 22 December 2021
Galleria Arte Poli, Rome


70th Anniversary from the ordination to
priesthood of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI

scroll artworks
70 years after the ordination of Joseph Ratzinger, the role and importance of Benedict XVI is becoming more and more precise. The images and objects, on display for the first time on the occasion of this exhibition thanks to Museum of Popes, are testimony to his journey of faith, courage and determination. The extent of his cultural vision can be understood also in the portrait I made, meant to be my homage to the figure of this extraordinary Pope.

Albano Poli

Exhibition organized in collaboration with
Museo dei Papi

and with patronage from
Vatican Foundation Joseph Ratzinger Benedict XVI | Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences

The portrait

The setting and composition of Benedict XVI's portrait is inspired by the painting by Benjamin von Block depicting Albert Sigismund of Bavaria, Bishop of Freising.

Pope Benedict XVI is smiling, depicted as in one of the numerous meetings with important political or religious personalities that took place during his pontificate. The artwork contains many meaningful details, such as the globe on which he places his hand, a reference to the "Dominus lesus" Declaration on the uniqueness and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church, a document signed by Joseph Ratzinger in August 2000 as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Benjamin von Block

Albert Sigismund of Bavaria, Bishop of Freising, painted by Benjamin von Block

Benedetto XVI

Objects and meanings
Discovering some symbols that enrich the artwork.

Santa Gertrude, scultura in bronzo realizzata da Progetto Arte Poli
The painting depicting Benedict XVI follows a consolidated procedure in the portrait tradition, which consists in introducing objects of symbolic importance. These are elements that identify the nature of the figure represented, communicating his tastes and passions and representing places and events even distant in time. These details of his personality, hidden in the composition at first sight, are conveyed in an implicit and almost subtle way. Knowledge and active participation are needed from the observer in order to completely understand them. Here are some examples:
Bozzetto dell'opera

The globe on which Benedict XVI places his hand is a symbol of his mission of evangelization throughout the world and a metaphor for international relations, dialogue and visits that have continued the work begun by John Paul II .

Dettaglio - Scultura di Sant’Agostino

The sculpture of Saint Agostino is a reference to theological studies and to his numerous writings. Saint Augustine of Hippo is in fact one of his main points of reference as well as being one of the first and most important fathers of the Church.

Dettaglio - Miracolo di San Corbiniano

The painting depicting the miracle of San Corbiniano. Here the Cathedral of Freising is clearly visible, a reference to the Episcopate of Joseph Ratzinger in the diocese of Munich-Freising and in the background the city of Rome with the dome of St. Peter's, a reference to the Pontificate.

Dettaglio - La cornice del dipinto

The frame of the painting is inspired by the architectural frames of the frescoed ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, whereas the shell in the center of the upper side is an evident reference to the pontifical coat of arms chosen by the pontiff, symbol of divine incommensurability through the Augustinian metaphor of the child and the sea.

Dettaglio - Benedetto XV

The face of Benedict XV to whom the pontiff was inspired for the choice of the name. The sculpture holds a branch of olive tree in its hand, symbol of the great commitment to peace during the First World War.

Dettaglio -  Pianoforte e spartito

The piano and the score are symbols of Pope Ratzinger's passion for music. Mozart is depicted in a small bust and the score is that of the Cantata Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme by JS Bach which led Benedict XVI to say: "Hearing this you understand: it's true; this strong faith and the beauty that irresistibly expresses the presence of God's truth are true".


Document of the First Communion
Document of the first mass
Cardinal's folder
Ordination to priesthood on June 29th, 1951
First speech after the election, April 19, 2005
Copy of the handwritten speech, introduction of the book 'Jesus of Nazareth'
Pope Benedict XVI with Pope Francis


I chose two words from the third letter of St. John: "collaborators of the truth" as episcopal motto, first of all because it seemed to me that they could well represent the continuity between my task and my new office: even with all the differences it was and still is about the same thing: following the truth and putting myself at its service.

Benedetto XVI

Progetto Arte Poli - Liturgical artworks

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