More about The Cardinal and Theological Virtues

  • All
  • Info
  • Video
  • Shop

Sr. Contributor

This Raphael painting is one part celebrity impersonation gag, one part freak show.

A twenty-year old kid from Massachusetts made this fresco an overnight Internet sensation. The kid's sister told him that one of the characters resembled Sylvester Stallone. Naturally, when this young adult visited Rome not long after his sister's revelation with his other family members, everyone piled over to the Vatican to investigate the situation for themselves. Lo and behold, Rocky was there. The kid put the picture online and, voila, the next morning it was on Reddit's homepage. National news outlets like CNN reported on the 500-year old find within days. Goes to show that there's no story too banal for a journalist to use to fill their slot on a slow news day.

The complete work is made up of three frescoes. The one on the left depicts Emperor Justinian receiving some religious news. On the right we have Pope Gregory IX getting his papacy on. A flock of virtues does the rock-a-way on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The virtues are fortitude, temperance, prudence, faith, hope, and charity. Prudence is easy to spot since she's the freak in the middle with the old man's face draped across the back of her skull, Voldemort style. No one ask where she got it, maybe she'll just leave soon.

Virtues takes up a whole wall in the Stanza della Segnatura, an office in the Vatican that Pope Julius II wanted pimped out as his personal library. Julius wasn't shy about being flashy with his art patronage. It was kind of a given that he'd be featured in the major commissions he doled out. Especially if his main painter Raphael was in charge, as with Virtues. Here, Julius stars as Gregory IX in some very official Pope business. Flocked around him are assistants played by Giovanni de Medici and Alessandro Farnese. These guys came from some of the biggest, most powerful families in Italy. They'd go on to succeed Julius as Pope. De Medici became Pope Leo X and Farnese went by Paul III.


20 Year old Anthony Zonfrell spotted Sylvester Stallone (far left) in this Raphael fresco in the Raphael rooms at the Vatican.

He posted a picture on Reddit and before you could say "Sylvester Stallone" it went viral and got 1m hits.

On further examination, there are other celebrity time travelers here as well. From left to right: Sylvester Stallone, Christopher Walken, Napoleon Bonaparte , Anthony Hopkins (Pope), Steve Buscemi, Joe Pesci, Louis CK (or Vincent Van Gogh), Liam Neeson and an older Gerard Butler (kneeling).

Who do you see?


Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about Cardinal and Theological Virtues (Raphael)

The Cardinal and Theological Virtues is a lunette fresco by Raphael found on the south wall of the Stanza della Segnatura in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican. Three of the cardinal virtues are personified as statuesque women seated in a bucolic landscape, and the theological virtues are depicted by putti.

The fresco was part of Raphael's commission to decorate the private apartments of Pope Julius II. These rooms are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello.

After completing his three monumental frescoes Disputation of the Holy Sacrament, The Parnassus, and The School of Athens in the Stanza della Segnatura, in 1511 Raphael painted the Cardinal and Theological Virtues.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Cardinal and Theological Virtues (Raphael)