You don't have to be Catholic or even particularly religious to enjoy WPLG-ABC 10's documentary Vatican Splendors, which airs from 8 to 9 p.m. Friday. Reported and narrated by Kristi Kreuger, it hopscotches between the Vatican's art, politics, personalities and even shopping, with interesting stuff to say about all of it.
The documentary is tied to the touring exhibition that opens Saturday at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale and runs for three months. The exhibition, in turn, is linked to the 500th anniversary of St. Peter's Basilica and Michelangelo's painting of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, and both play prominent roles in the show. The lushly photographed show includes an after-dark tour of the chapel and even a visit to the tomb under the basilica where popes are buried.
Kreuger weaves interesting tales through the pretty pictures, from the secret 1939 excavation in search of the bones of St. Peter to Michelangelo's defiant painting of 300 or so human figures onto the ceiling where he was only supposed to depict the 12 apostles. (If reporters ever get a patron saint to help them out in the eternal war against editors, Michelangelo gets my vote.) And she's even got the story behind the bronze cast of the hand of Pope John Paul II that visitors to the exhibition in Fort Lauderdale can shake. On the day the original plaster cast was taken, the pope listened in exasperation as his assistants argued with the artist -- what an indignity, they insisted, for the pope to plunge his hand in muddy water. Enough! roared the pope: "I may be old, but I still know how to wash my hands!"