Gladiator star Russell Crowe has copped backlash after sharing photographs from his private tour of the Vatican’s holy Sistine Chapel.
Crowe, 58, has kept fans up to date all week with heartwarming posts of his tour of Rome with his family.
They have visited the Colosseum – where Crowe said he was “taking the kids to see his old office” – and seen Roman frescos, artworks.
He also took his mother, Jocelyn, to the Vatican Museum, a place she held close after visiting there with her late husband John, 20 years ago.
He wrote: “We stepped on to the balcony, a majestic sweeping view of Rome. From somewhere in the Vatican we could hear the Swiss Guard band rehearsing. The music floated up to us.
“It took me a few moments to realize they were playing Danny Boy, one of the songs we played at his funeral.”
And then there were four photos from inside an empty 15th-century Sistine Chapel.
“I’m not sure there’s a more special privilege in the world than to hold the key for the Sistine Chapel and to experience its glory in silence,” Crowe tweeted on July 19.
“A very special experience as a family yesterday. Got to walk through the Vatican Museum by ourselves. Amazing,” he wrote in another post.
And this: “We were given access to rooms, perspectives and parts of the collection you don’t get to see as a regular tourist”.
But the tweets sparked a storm, with social media users quick to point out it is forbidden to take photos inside Michelangelo’s 15th-century masterpiece.
“Though I have pictures from inside Sistine Chapel … you must know it is illegal to take pictures inside Sistine Chapel,” wrote one Twitter user.
Another said: “You can take photos where the rest of us mere mortals aren’t allowed”
“I was there last month. Beautiful place but it was so packed and strictly no photos allowed. I suppose we are not all gladiators,” said another.
“The church gives privileges to rich and famous people while the plebs have to queue and swelter in the heat. Never mind taking photos. By the way, did you fly in by private jet? Just curious because of the global climate emergency and all,” said another.
The official Vatican website – which gives detailed guidelines for tourists, from what to wear, to bringing in pets, food and drink – also has a category for “photography at the Vatican museums”.
“It is permitted to take photographs, for personal and domestic use only, of the works in all areas of the Vatican museums, apart from the Sistine Chapel. Flash photography is strictly forbidden,” it reads.
“In the Sistine Chapel it is forbidden to take photographs or films with any type of electronic equipment.
“The guard staff is authorised to request this immediate cancellation, in their presence, of video or photographic material produced in contravention of this rule.”
Crowe is involved in five film projects, including filming Kraven the Hunter, and pre-production for Rothko, American Son and Land of Bad.
His trip to Rome is reportedly also to work on his next film The Pope’s Exorcist, in which he plays Father Gabriele Amorth.