2 Raphael "Madonnas" Prepare Way for Pope in Germany

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DRESDEN, Germany, SEPT. 7, 2011 (Zenit.org).- An exhibit called "Heavenly Splendour" is coinciding with Benedict XVI's visit to Germany this month. The event marks the first time that two of Raphael's most famous masterpieces will be reunited.

The exhibit, fruit of the cooperation of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and the Vatican Museums, opened today in Dresden. It will run through Jan. 8.

The exhibit brings together the "Madonna di Foligno" and the "Sistine Madonna." Raphael painted the "Madonna di Foligno" in 1512, the same year Pope Julius II commissioned the "Sistine Madonna."

Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, acting president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, opened the exhibit by stressing the exceptional nature of the Dresden event.

The Vatican Museums, which has housed the "Madonna di Foligno" for some 200 years, needed the Pope's express approval to lend the work. At the Vatican, it is normally displayed in the same room as Raphael's "Transfiguration."

The "Sistine Madonna" has been kept in Dresden since the mid 18th century.

Both Virgins are being exhibited along with other works of famous pre-Reformation German painters, including: Cranach the Elder, Albrecht Dürer and Matthias Grünewald.

Cardinal Lajolo described them as "all wonderful works that reveal to the eyes of visitors, in the diversity of their styles, unity in the same faith."

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On the Net:

"Heavenly Splendour": www.skd.museum/en/special-exhibitions/preview/heavenly-splendour/index.html