· Vatican City ·

Pope Francis mourns former director of Vatican Museums

09 February 2024

Pope Francis expressed his condolences following the death of Mr Antonio Paolucci, former Director of the Vatican Museums and a leading art historian, who passed away on Sunday, 4 February, at the age of 84.

In a telegram addressed to the late director’s son, Fabrizio, Pope Francis remembered Mr Paolucci as an “esteemed connoisseur of art” who gave “generous and competent service” to the Holy See. He also assured Paolucci’s family of his prayers.

Mr Paolucci was appointed director of the Vatican Museums in November 2007 by Pope Benedict xvi. Born in Rimini in 1939, he had headed museums in Venice, Verona, Mantua, and Florence, and served as government minister for Cultural Heritage.

He was a prolific writer but particularly remembered for his in-depth studies on the Florence Baptistery and Michelangelo’s Pietà. In July 2016, Paolucci was succeeded at the Vatican Museums by Ms Barbara Jatta, who had previously worked as deputy director. In a statement, Ms Jatta said, “With Antonio Paolucci’s passing, a chapter in the history of the Vatican Museums comes to a close”. She described him as a “refined art historian” who “dedicated his entire life” to “art, beauty, and culture”.