Saint Peter’s Factory: The Vatican School of Arts and Crafts is Keeping Tradition Alive

Twelve young men and eight young women from Italy, Peru, Germany and Belarus will be trained by the best craftsmen of the Vatican Basilica.

Newsroom (19/01/2023 11:15 AM, Gaudium Press) — On January 16, classes began at the School of Arts and Crafts at Fabbrica di San Pietro, with the mission of teaching young students the mastery of the trades of stone carvers and marble workers, plasterers and decorators, and carpenters. At a time when the internet, robotics and artificial intelligence seem to dominate the world, the Vatican school prepares twenty young people for the trades of stone carver, marble worker, plasterer, decorator and joiner and love for art and the treasures of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Twelve young men and eight young women from Italy, Peru, Germany and Belarus will be trained by the best craftsmen of the Vatican Basilica. They all have a high school diploma and backgrounds in technical/artistic education, as stipulated in the call for proposals. The youngest have recently finished high school and chose the Fabbrica di San Pietro School of Arts and Crafts before entering the world of work or other university studies. Others are university students who, on the advice of their professors, have asked to attend the school.

The Vatican classifies these young apprentices as “the heirs of young aspiring masons, carpenters, stone carvers and all the craftsmen of mechanical arts. The factory began training 250 years ago, establishing the Pontifical Studio of Arts, a true training center of high specialization.”

According to archival sources, since the end of the 18th century, attendance at the Fabbrica’s School was free, intended for the training of young artisans from all over Rome, open at night and on holidays to allow students to work in the morning. At that time, the ‘Factory’ provided new generations of craftsmen the technical knowledge of the old ones and the necessary skills to develop their own service in the Vatican Basilica, as an act of love and responsibility.

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As Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, president of the Fabbrica di San Pietro and the Foundation Fratelli Tutti, stressed, the school opts to promote the transmission of this practical knowledge once again, linked to know-how, with a didactic proposal and similar goals. The school is free and knowledge will be administered by the best masters of the Vatican Basilica, who are entrusted with the maintenance and restoration of a true treasure of faith, art and architecture.

Theoretical classes will be held in classrooms specially set up at the Canon’s Palace, and workshop activities will be held in the ateliers of Fabbrica di San Pietro, where aspiring artisans will have the opportunity to practice and work in close contact with the master craftsmen.

For more than five centuries, Fabbrica di San Pietro has been a center of highly specialized knowledge, capable of stimulating the creativity and skill of artists and craftsmen constantly committed to meeting the specific needs of a unique building such as the Basilica from the Vatican. Students will learn traditional crafts adapted to new technologies. The courses will last for 6 months, with mandatory attendance. During the entire duration of the course, students will be accommodated in the “Villa Aurelia” residence of the Dehonian Fathers, located near the Basilica.

The selection of candidates, which was carried out through a test and an individual interview with the support of the school’s secretary, coordinated by Paola D’Onofrio, took personal motivations into account. All expressed a desire to train in ancient trades, which today seem unattractive to many of their peers. How to apply for a vacancy? Information for registration for the next selection of the School of Arts and Crafts “Fabbrica di San Pietro” can be obtained by writing to the School Secretary: scuola.artiemestieri@fsp.va. artiemestieri@fsp.va 

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Compiled by Donna Smolders

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