Vatican offers virtual tour of its art - and fends off 30 hackers a day

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Vatican's website was already one of the snazzier outposts on the Net, with the keys of St Peter and the papal triple crown stamped on a background the colour and texture of parchment with St Peter's Basilica floating in a pink haze.

The Vatican's website was already one of the snazzier outposts on the Net ( www.vatican.va), with the keys of St Peter and the papal triple crown stamped on a background the colour and texture of parchment with St Peter's Basilica floating in a pink haze. The speed may not be up to much but, if a computer can conveyaugust heritage, the Vatican site does.

And the site is becoming a whole lot classier. Vatican officials announced yesterday they would put their enormous art collection online, including such works as Michelangelo's ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

But it's not philanthropy. Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka, who oversees the artworks, said: "The tool of the Web, with its enormous potential, allows us to get closer to an ever grow-ing number of people to spread the message of evangelisation."

Francesco Buranelli, the director, says on the Vatican Museums page: "I hope this new site may be a useful instrument of knowledge and give access to the complex reality of our 500-year-old art collections, which are visited by more than three million people a year."

The site offers virtual tours, including the Gregorian, Egyptian and Etruscan museums, Raphael's rooms, and the famous ceiling. After presenting a panoramic view, viewers can zoom in on details, such as the "Creation of Adam" or "Original Sin and Banishment".

The Vatican has shown a shrewd understanding of the power of modern communications since launching its site eight years ago. Last month, in a gesture of electronic glasnost, they even published the Pope's e-mail address. It is: john_paul_ii@vatican.va

* The Vatican has taken on a team of experts to protect the Pope's website, which is attacked by some 10,000 viruses a month and at least 30 mainly American hackers every day. The Vatican must also fend off web surfers who harbour no hostile intent whatsoever, such as an insomniac Franciscan friar who had repeatedly tried to enter the site.

Comments