The following is July 21 Digital Journal press release by Marissa Giller:

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum has announced that it is the exclusive West Coast destination of Vatican Splendors: A Journey Through Faith and Art, opening March 6, 2016. This 12,000 square foot exhibition, comprising one of the largest Vatican collections ever to tour the United States, includes an extraordinary collection of historical and religious objects, some of which date to the first century, as well as works of art by Michelangelo, Bernini, Guercino and others.

From the opening theater experience, where visitors will become immersed in the grandeur of the Vatican, to the closing object of a cast of Saint John Paul II’s hand (which guests may grasp), visitors will encounter the art, history and culture of the Vatican with unprecedented access and insight. This special presentation of art and objects includes many never before on display in North America, and some not on view to the general public, even in Rome.

Pre-sale tickets for the exhibit, which include admission into the main Reagan Library Museum and Air Force One Pavilion, are now available at

“Throughout his life, my husband had great affinity for the Catholic Church and as President of the United States, his relationship with the Vatican was very strong,” said former first lady Nancy Reagan. “He established a unique and very special friendship with Saint John Paul II. Remarkably, they shared similar personal backgrounds and together, they worked very hard — mostly in secret — to free the people of Poland and other captive nations from Communist rule. My husband would have been honored to know that his presidential library will be sharing this remarkable Vatican exhibition with the American people.”

Prior to coming to the Reagan Library, the exhibit will be housed at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia where it coincides with the historic Papal Visit (September 26, 2015) and the World Meeting of Families Congress (September 22-25, 2015).

Following its time at the Reagan Library, the items will return to the Vatican, from which they cannot be absent for more than one year. The exhibit includes one of Michelangelo’s signed documents and a rarely seen bas relief sculpture created towards the end of his career. Other objects include venerated remains (bone fragments) of Saints Peter and Paul, artifacts discovered at the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul, and historical objects from the modern and ancient basilicas of Saint Peter’s in Rome. The objects are presented in galleries and recreated environments designed to enhance the understanding of their historical and artistic significance.

“The Reagan Foundation hosts many exhibits at the Reagan Library, but few, if any, that make us more proud than this one,” said John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. “Vatican Splendors is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that one has to see to believe.”

Cast of the Hand of Blessed John Paul II, Pope Photo copyright 2015 © Città del Vaticano
The Holy Family with Two Angels Photo copyright 2015 © Città del Vaticano