Among Thousands, One Key Unlocks the Beauty of the Sistine Chapel

Tags: Currents Faith, Inspiration, Vatican Museums, World News

Currents News Staff

Within the Vatican Museums, lie a whole other world. At 4:45am, before tourists have had their first espresso of the day and gotten in line to see the art filling the museums, the work to open each door begins.

When visitors dream of coming to Rome, many can’t wait to view the most-seen room within the Vatican Museums: the spectacular Sistine Chapel.

As many as 30,000 people can visit per day during the busy summer season, walking the nearly 5 miles of hallways contained behind these doors.

But imagine entering the room every morning all alone.

This is the job of Gianni Crea, the Vatican key master. Once he grabs his share of the 2,979 keys to open his quarter of the museum, his first stop is to get the sole key to the Sistine Chapel.

“We are inside the key bunker, where we get the key for the Sistine Chapel. It’s inside another small box. We take the only copy, the only key to the Sistine Chapel that the Vatican Museums possesses,” he explained, walking through his daily the process of unlocking the chapel.

Gianni’s daily mile-long route to open every door in his part of the museum takes about an hour and a half, finishing around 6:30am. This way, cleaners and tour guides are able to begin their job, before tourists flood in for their daily visits.

“I have the opportunity to open the Sistine Chapel for all the tourists that visit from around the world. So it’s unique, extraordinary and beautiful, for me and also for my colleagues. We are also in the center of Christianity, so for a Catholic, it’s more than you could ever want,” he said.

The magic begins once the door is unlocked and the lights are turned on.