As the cardinals have zipped their mouths amid orders from the Vatican, the latter has likewise closed to the public the Sistine Chapel, in order to start sprucing it up for the necessary build works for the upcoming 25th papal conclave expected to unfold anytime this month.
Floorboards are slowly being put on top of the chapel's marble floors as protection. Earlier, it was reported the floorboards were needed to conceal anti-bugging devices, but Rev Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, denied this.
"They won't work if you put them there," Rev Rosica said, clarifying the jamming devices will be placed "more like a shield on an airplane" and installed high up on the walls.
After which, the stoves to be used to burn the ballots to communicate to the outside world the results of the papacy election will likewise be brought into the chapel, which is famous for its architecture and its frescoe decoration done by Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio and others.
Vatican did not specify as to how many days the construction works will last, but it is premised this is being facilitated since the time for the start of the papal conclave is already drawing near.
Tourists were immediately disappointed at the development.
"You can't visit the Vatican every year, or even every 10 years, when you're from Mumbai," Srini Kollpuba from Mumbai, India told Catholic Online.
"We are disappointed actually because this is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
"It's a shame," Monika Fleischmann, an Italian tourist visiting Rome with her two sisters, said. "We are only here two days so there wasn't enough time to wait until it reopened. But, I guess a papal resignation hasn't happened for more than 600 years."
Named after Pope Sixtus IV, the Sistine Chapel accommodates nearly 10,000 tourists a day.
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