Go Behind the Scenes​ ​in​ ​Vatican City with this Photo Series

Inside the City of God: Photo essay reveals the unseen inner workings of Vatican City.

While Vatican City is well-known as the city-state which houses the headquarters of the Catholic Church, the comings, goings, and workday details of the people who toil within the Vatican are barely documented at all.

Which is why The Guardian photographer Christian Sinibaldi repeatedly requested (and was granted) access to the private world of Pope Francis. “The Vatican Unseen” is the photo-essay which resulted from this unprecedented access. 

This was not, however, Sinibaldi’s first visit to Vatican City. His first job was inside the Vatican, documenting artwork as an assistant photographer. “The Vatican Unseen” is the culmination of his efforts to get back after all these years.

Pope Francis and all who work within the Vatican walls were preparing for Francis’ “extraordinary Jubilee” – a year of prayer occurring only once every 20 years or so — during Sinibaldi’s time there.

Also extraordinary is the tact the Holy See has taken with his time as the head of the church. As Father Federico Lombardi put it, “Instead of going about with complete indifference, feeling the church is out of step with the times, Francis has made it closer, more present, with all the suffering and difficulty that humanity experiences today.”

Updating the Catholic catechism to reflect the needs of the modern world requires Pope Francis to abandon some of the dogmatic policy of his church and focus again on the Jesuit beliefs of service and aid to those in need.

Sinibaldi’s photography also harkens back to days gone by as age-old traditions still play out inside the Vatican. From Professor Pellegrini, known as the Pope’s butler, to the countless clergyman walking the halls, to the two communities of nuns who live and work in the Vatican, to the Swiss Guard — clad in their unforgettable blue, yellow and red uniforms — who still protects the Pope and the College of Cardinals, to the drivers and the florists and the mosaic artists and even the keepers of keys, Sinibaldi’s beautiful photography reveals to us all what has been unseen all these years, as Pope Francis strides to move the Catholic Church into the 21st century while thoughtfully maintaining its long-revered traditions.

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