For decades, the Patrons of the Arts group has been responsible for promoting the conservation and restoration of great masterpieces in the Vatican Museums, such as the Raphael Rooms, the Gallery of Maps and the Pauline Chapel.
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of its founding, members had a private audience with Pope Francis. He pointed out the importance of art, particularly religious art. He said it can be an encouragement to those who are lonely or feel lost.
Art, religious art in particular, can bring a message of mercy, compassion and encouragement not only to believers, but also to those who doubt, who feel lost, uncertain or alone. It has the power to foster recognition of our common humanity, to build bridges between cultures and peoples and to create the sense of solidarity we so badly need in our sadly divided and war-torn world.
The group was founded in 1983 in the United States. It also serves the purpose of maintaining the Vatican Museums.