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The Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Built between 1475 and 1483, in the time of Pope Sixtus IV, the Sistine Chapel is rectangular in shape and measures 40.93 meters long by 13.41 meters wide, i.e. the exact dimensions of the Temple of Solomon, in Jerusalem. It is 20.70 meters high and is roofed by a flattened barrel vault, with little side vaults over the centered windows. The architectural plans were made by Baccio Pontelli and the construction work was supervised by Giovannino de' Dolci. The first Mass in the Sistine Chapel was celebrated on August 9, 1483. The wall paintings were executed by Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Cosimo Rosselli, Luca Signorelli and others.

Michelangelo Buonarroti was commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1508 to repaint the ceiling; the work was completed between 1508 and 1512. 

The photograph below of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling is in fact an image map, linked to photographs of its principal panels depicting the story of the Creation and Fall. By scrolling your cursor from the top to the bottom this image, you will be able to move to a larger image of that ceiling panel. Then hit the back key to return to the image map, or hit "next" to continue exploring the individual panels. (Note that the chronological order is reversed with the creation story beginning at the "bottom" of this image, and subsequent events appearing toward the top.) 

Begin viewing images

All the images in this article on the paintings of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling are Copyright
Christus Rex, Inc. and are used by permission. 

Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and author of Faith, Science and the Future, published in 1994 by CrossCurrents Press. He is also the author of God and Science (John Knox / Westminster, 1986) which he is now rewriting to incorporate more recent developments in the conversation taking place between scientists and theologians. He has also written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The Nation, Commonweal, The Christian Century and others.

For further information about Charles P. Henderson.