A Franciscan Friar’s place in the Vatican Museums


Although the Vatican Museums were closed for almost 3 months during the latest lockdown, work still continued within its walls, including that of installing a large multi paneled work (polyptych) by a Franciscan Friar. The work is entitled “Golgotha” and is by Br. Sidival Fila, who is originally from Brazil but who has spent over 25 years in Italy. Br. Sidival is member of the fraternity at St. Bonaventure on the Palatine, Rome, having joined the Order in Italy and having been ordained priest in 1999. He has become a well-known artist, creating beautiful works of art with fabrics, materials, and a variety of sewing techniques, most often using objects and fabrics that have been discarded.

He was the first Religious ever to exhibit at the prestigious Venice Biennale, and it is his work for the Biennale that has now become part of the Vatican’s permanent Collection of Contemporary Art. The Museums have chosen a stunning location for “Golgotha” — The Hall of the Saints in the Borgia Apartment, with its superb 15th century frescoes by the Italian Renaissance artist, Pinturicchio. The contrast, in terms of color, concept, and texture is striking and highly evocative. Br. Sidival explains, “I have placed an ancient crucifix inside a very large work, in which the attention falls precisely on this suspended crucifix. Christ is clearly depicted, but the rest is abstract. Even the two thieves are presented in an abstract way. In reality, the work does not express the passion but the drama of the passion through the use of those objects that made the last earthly stage of Christ’s life so bloody — such as nails and horseshoes. On the other hand, there are floral elements, as if these were the fruit of Christ’s passion.”

My ‘Golgotha’ installation is composed of eight elements, but only one of them presents a figurative sculpture of the Holy Cross. The other 7 elements open the door to spirituality and transcendence, but they are not directly related to a specific religion, they wish only to speak to every creed and to the human heart.”

Our fraternal congratulations to Br. Sidival — this extraordinary recognition and honor is a source of great pride. Perhaps more importantly, it is also a sign of hope and confidence that the depth and beauty of the Christian faith can truly be communicated in contemporary terms that express God’s passionate love for humanity.

See Br. Sidival’s website (in 5 languages): www.sidivalfila.it