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Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics. On this week’s program, Rick welcomes James Day as our in-studio guest.

James is literally our “next door neighbor” at OC Catholic Radio, as he is the Operations Director for EWTN’s west coast studios.

He is also quite a prolific writer, having recently penned a book about the transformation of Christ Cathedral and what this means for the Diocese of Orange.

Today, James shares about a fascinating series of articles that he has written about the Sistine Chapel Exhibit at Christ Cathedral. It is a must see!



Originally broadcast on 1/11/20

A virtual Sistine Chapel Experience

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition, an immersive showcase of museum-quality, near-life-size reproductions of the iconic master’s frescoes that adorn the Sistine Chapel in Rome, arrives in Orange County this week. The exhibit runs from April 13 through January 11, 2020 in Christ Cathedral’s Cultural Center.   

The breathtaking exhibit allows visitors to experience one of the world’s greatest artistic achievements: Michelangelo’s renowned ceiling frescoes from the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, reproduced in near-original size, enabling viewers to get face to face with the artist’s masterpieces.  

Through 34 reproductions artfully displayed in an engaging environment, this innovative presentation of world-renowned pieces like The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgment bring audiences up close to the artwork; a perfect experience for those who have seen the pieces in their grandeur in Rome and want a closer look, or for those who have not made the trip but want to experience the wonder and beauty for themselves.  

“We are thrilled to showcase this exquisite exhibit at Orange County’s Christ Cathedral Campus,” said Tracey Kincaid, head of communications for the Diocese of Orange. “This is a unique educational opportunity for both young and old to get an up-close-and-personal view of the great masterpieces that adorn Rome’s Sistine Chapel.”  

Art lovers, history buffs, and the devout, will enjoy a contemporary and curated experience – uncluttered, self-paced and in-depth. Guests can enhance their experience by adding an optional audio guide, with narrative accompaniment available in four languages. Audio guides are available for $3 as well as $5 Augmented Reality goggle rentals, which when aimed at each fresco will initiate the audio guide and bring the art to life, giving visitors an additional exciting and interactive experience.  

The Diocese of Orange is bringing this exhibit to the campus as part of a year- long celebration at Christ Cathedral, which is being dedicated July 19 after over a year of renovations on the building previously known as Crystal Cathedral (former home to the Reverend Robert Schuller’s “Hour of Power”), which was purchased by the Diocese.   

The Cathedral, a worldwide center of worship and the heart of Catholicism in Southern California, will be open for Sunday Masses only beginning in July, but the campus may be toured while visiting the exhibit.   

The showcase is being produced by L.A.-based exhibition company SEE Global Entertainment, which acquired the rights to the fresco reproductions through an exclusive worldwide license from Bridgeman Images.  

“After traveling around the world with the exhibition from the New York World Trade Center to the Vienna Votiv Cathedral to the Shanghai World Financial Center and beyond, we could not be more excited to bring this world-renowned masterpiece to our home state of California, and above all have the opportunity to showcase it on Orange County’s gorgeous Christ Cathedral Campus,” says Martin Biallas, President of SEE.  

The exhibit will be open daily from April 13, 2019 through January 11, 2020 in The Cultural Center at Christ Cathedral, 13280 Chapman Ave, Garden Grove, Calif. 92840.  Ticket prices start at $18 and are available in advance at Day-of tickets are also available for sale at the Cathedral’s Box Office. Special rates are available for students, seniors and members of the military and parties of 10 or more.  

The exhibit space is also available for private or corporate events. For more information please visit


It stands out among iconic art works in Western culture and certainly Catholicism: Michelangelo Buonarroti’s depiction of God, bursting from the heavens surrounded by angels to reach with an extended forefinger to touch the hand of man. Although “The Creation of Adam,” is the best known of the images painted on the ceiling of the famed Sistine Chapel, it is just one masterpiece amid a canopy of magnificent holy art in the space. 

Beginning Saturday, April 13, parishioners of the Diocese of Orange, residents of Southern California and visitors from afar will have the chance to witness some of the greatest art outside of the Vatican as they tour “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Exhibition” on the campus of Christ Cathedral. 

The arrival of the exhibit adds to a robust calendar of concerts and events that will bracket the official dedication of Christ Cathedral on July 17. 

“This is the launch of a whole new era,” said Hank Evers, director of marketing for the Diocese of Orange. 

The Sistine Chapel Exhibit features 35 licensed photographic reproductions of the famed 16th century frescoes that adorn the chapel, including full-sized renditions of ceiling panels, and two 40-foot by 40-foot renderings of the massive “The Last Judgement” fresco, pre- and post-restoration.  

However, unlike in the chapel, with its 44-foot high ceiling, the artwork will be mounted in a way to allow close inspection. 

“This exhibition will be a rare and amazing experience,” Evers said. “To see Michelangelo’s master work close up is an art form you will never forget.” 

According to the show’s literature, “Guests who have already visited the Sistine Chapel will find a new way of observing the art. Visitors who have never seen the originals will be intrigued and inspired to visit the Sistine Chapel at some time in the future.” 

The exhibition is the creation of Los Angeles-based Special Entertainment Events, which also staged popular touring “Star Trek” and “Titanic” exhibits. Since its 2015 unveiling in Montreal, the show has been a popular attraction and toured internationally with stops in locales from Houston to China.  

Tickets range from $18 for general admission adults to $5 for children on school tours. The nine-month run of the show, April 13, 2019 to January 11, 2020, will be its longest. 

Since the Diocese acquired the property at Christ Cathedral, it has looked for ways to make the campus a religious and cultural hub, not only for Catholics, but the entire community. 

Evers says the exhibit will reach far beyond the campus boundaries to draw people from across Southern California, as well as some of the 17 million tourists that visit Anaheim every year. 

Michelangelo Buonarroti was already an acclaimed sculptor when he was invited to Rome by Pope Julius II in 1505. 

In 1508, although painting was not considered his forte at the time, Michelangelo began work on the Sistine Chapel. Initially commissioned as a painting of the 12 Apostles, Michelangelo expanded the vision to create a sweeping biblical tale spanning from the creation through Noah and the great flood. Painting by himself, perched on self-designed scaffolding, over the next four-plus years, Michelangelo embarked an unmatched artistic journey.  

When completed and inaugurated in November 1512, the chapel’s ceiling featured more than 300 figures covering about 500 square meters, including famed pieces, “The Creation of Adam,” “Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden,” and “The Deluge.” Surrounding the biblical scenes are depictions of the prophets and sibyls, or female oracles who foretold the coming of the Messiah. 

“The Last Judgment,” Michelangelo’s massive fresco that covers the altar wall at the Sistine Chapel, which was painted from 1536-1541, is also included in the 8,000-square-foot exhibit.  

Over the centuries, the masterpieces became faded and blurred from dust and soot. Restoration was undertaken in the 1980s and 1990s, and the exhibit shows the frescoes in their restored splendor. 

“The exhibition takes us up onto the scaffolding during restoration for a new perspective,” according to show literature.  


Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Exhibition 


When: Saturday, April 13, 2019 – Saturday, January 11, 2020. 

Hours of operation: Daily: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 

Cost: General Admission $18 

Seniors/Military/College students with ID $12 

Children 7-18 years $9 

Groups of 10 or more $10 per person 

School groups $8 per child 



WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Sistine Chapel Choir came to Washington Sept. 20 on a rare U.S. visit. Its stops included Detroit and New York as well as The Catholic University of America, where it gave a concert and presented a workshop.

The choir resembles the choir of the Early Renaissance period of 500 years ago in that it features all males, including about 30 boys, to sing the soprano and alto parts that were written with their vocal timbre in mind.

The choir is directed by an Italian Salesian priest, Msgr. Massimo Palombella, whose first name and clerical honorific are usually ignored in favor of the address “Maestro.”

Appointed in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI, the priest’s commission was renewed in 2015 by Pope Francis.

In a Sept. 20 interview with Catholic News Service, Msgr. Palombella, ordained in 1997, said that as the choir conductor, he gets to “dig roots” into the earliest years of the choir.

Speaking in heavily accented English and having a reporter’s questions interpreted into Italian by the choir’s first-ever British member, Msgr. Palombella said the Vatican archives retain the music written all those years ago for the choir, with arrangements intended for the boys who populated the choir all those years ago. Back then, there were no liturgical roles for women; even the actors performing Shakespeare’s works at the Globe Theater in London were all men.

Today’s members do not have the grinding schedule that the choir — organized in its current form in 1471 — once had. It used to sing virtually every Sunday. Although it rehearses for three hours a day, the choir sings at Christmas and Easter Masses at the Sistine Chapel and at about 20 other Masses and liturgical functions there, as well as concerts there and elsewhere, such as the September U.S. trip. The choir also makes recordings annually for the Deutsche Grammophon label and made its first-ever recording inside the Sistine Chapel.

While the choir may be getting back to its roots, one obvious innovation has taken place. Instead of juggling sheaves of music and turning pages with one hand while trying to conduct with the other, Msgr. Palombella uses a tablet and does a simple swipe-left to change the page.

Conducting the choir and selecting the repertoire is only half of Msgr. Palombella’s job. The other half is writing music. His charge, he said, is to combine both liturgical demands with the influences of contemporary composers to produce fresh material for the choir to complement its historic repertoire.

A Catholic University spokesman said the Sistine choir had visited the school before, but it was at least 30 years ago.

For the workshop, Catholic University music students were invited to attend, as were the music directors of nearby parishes, the spokesman said.

Fourteen Sistine Chapel Choir members at the workshop demonstrated some of the group’s repertoire from composers such as Palestrina. All the choir members were adults; one was 22 years old, while others had more than 22 years of experience in the choir. Two introduced themselves as having served two stints in the choir, first as boys and now as adults.

During the workshop, Msgr. Palombella said a direct line of continuity from the Early Renaissance to today cannot be drawn by the choir, even though it has been in existence for half a millennium, due to the use some centuries ago of “castrati” — boys who had their testicles removed before puberty so their singing voices would not slide into deeper ranges as they grew older.

Introduced into the Sistine choir about 1620, the castrati had all but displaced boys by 1650 and remained in vogue for about two centuries, according to Msgr. Palombella, noting the last castrato performed at the Vatican in the early 20th century, after which time Pope Pius X forbade their use.


The Vatican’s Sistine Chapel choir, one of the oldest religious choirs in the word, recently recorded its first album within the Sistine Chapel itself.

The new album is titled “Cantate Domino.” This video details how it all came together.

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — One of the oldest choirs in the world recorded a CD of their repertoire of sacred music surrounded by the famed frescoes of Michelangelo, Perugino, Pinturicchio and Botticelli.

Marking the first professional studio recording to take place in the Sistine Chapel, the pope’s Sistine Chapel Choir features on a new CD titled, “Cantate Domino.”

Produced by Deutsche Grammophon and Universal Music Italia, the new 16-track CD was released Sept. 25 with the proceeds earmarked for the poor through the pope’s charitable efforts.

The Sistine Chapel Choir, made up of 20 men and 30 boys, sings music that had been written specifically for papal celebrations in the Sistine Chapel and for the papal choir during the Renaissance.

The pieces include Gregorian chant and works by Renaissance masters Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Tomas Luis de Victoria, Orlande de Lassus and Felice Anerio. It also features a world premiere recording of Gregorio Allegri’s original composition of “Miserere” — found archived in a codex from 1661 in the Vatican Library.

Msgr. Massimo Palombella — director of the Sistine Chapel Choir — said in a press release Sept. 28: “It is my hope that these masterworks will touch millions of listeners worldwide, and connect them to the historical culture and deep spirituality of the Catholic Church.”

He told Vatican Radio that the pontifical choir, which traces back to the 1470s, is dedicated today to making its music known beyond the walls of Vatican City and to helping people experience “the Lord, salvation, evangelization” through sacred music.

Meanwhile, San Paolo Multimedia will be releasing sometime in November, “Wake Up!” a rock album featuring Pope Francis’ words and prayers.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters Sept. 29 that San Paolo had permission to use the voice of the pope for the album, which is being distributed by the label, Believe Digital, and is being made available on iTunes.

Layered over original scores of pop and prog-rock music are original Vatican Radio recordings of Pope Francis as he delivered, live, important talks or prayers in four languages.

For example, “Wake Up!”, the title song featured on the album, uses a clip of the pope from his homily during Mass with young people in South Korea in August 2014. Speaking in English, the pope says, “I don’t like to see young people who are sleeping. No! Wake up! Go! Go forward! Dear young people, ‘God, our God, has blessed us.'”