Why do the Vatican Museums keep and display non-Christian items? There are things from the ancient world relating to paganism. Granted, it isn’t as if anyone at the Vatican is bowing down to these idols. But, it still seems odd to preserve pagan things.
Then again, it is true that nobody really worships via paganism these days, except for those bizarre New Agers, but frankly they’re taken as seriously as satanists are.
If those pieces of art were limited to the Judeo-Christian realm, that’s one thing, but it’s another thing to care about pagan stuff. There are a handful of exceptions, like the obelisk at Saint Peter’s, since it was one of the last things that our first Pope saw. Because of that, it is a relic. But not all pagan things have the same fortunate history.
Or am I just viewing paganism incorrectly? Was paganism just an “incomplete” form of theism, and its culmination and true self rests in Christianity? If I recall right, John XXIII’s teaching on Latin discussed how coming of Christianity was the culmination of past human attempts, such as ancient philosophies. Is it as how a Museum of Math would still display the old abacus even though technology has surpassed it by far?
Or are these things meant to show the victory Christianity had over its pagan oppressors? And even if that is the case, why do the Vatican Museums even have items that came from Islam? Christianity has yet to conquer over it. They also preserve and display a small temple to Vishnu – again something belonging to a religion that is still very much alive (Hinduism).
Of course, the Pope was once a secular monarch, and this could be viewed as a sort of secular museum. But the Pope hasn’t been a secular monarch for well over a century now, and Pius XI relinquished claims that sort of secular power, and that was 80-some-odd years ago. The secular monarchy argument has gone the way of dinosaurs, flappers and the macarena.
It honestly seems a bit impractical to me. I know, though, that our leaders in Rome are far wiser than I am, and I’m sure they have sound reasons for doing this. Can anyone shed some light?