Works of Compassion in Rome

Museum of the Bible began with a few artifacts, and immediately shifted into organizing a traveling exhibit to share these ancient relics across the country and around the world. The goal of the traveling exhibits was to share the vision to invite all people to engage with the Bible. It is well understood that not everyone will be able to visit our flagship building in Washington D.C.. It is also understood that not everyone will be able to travel the world and see all the different museums regarding other artifacts and exhibits of similar intent.

To help serve museum aficionados around the world, Museum of the Bible has entered into strong collaborations with other organizations that are passionate about historical outreach for biblical literacy. Museum spaces have been carefully designated for some of these collaborations to take temporary residence within the museum’s four walls. One such exhibit, to be installed in 2018, is designed around the mercy and social welfare in Rome from the 13th through 19th centuries, and is credited with many principles from biblical writings.

In the early centuries, it was often a practice to terminate the life of a child who was born with a deformity. However, in the early 4th century, devised by Constantine, orphanages were designed to take in children without families, based on the prescribed Jewish Law, which mandates care for the widow and the orphan. This practice, although somewhat precarious during its time, agreed with a long-standing tradition of Greco-Roman paternalism and Judeo-Christian practices often found in books of the Bible. Psalm 68:5 says, “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows, is God in his holy habitation.” (ESV). James 1:27 goes on to state, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (ESV)

This exhibit, the first of three over the next three years, is in collaboration with the Roman State Archives and will display archival documents, prints, paintings, and some objects. “The Rome State Archive is honored that we have been asked to bring such a wide array of historical items to Museum of the Bible over the course of the next three years,” said Rome State Archive Director, Paolo Buonora, Ph.D. “We have a unique opportunity to showcase the impact the Bible, and the religious spirit and morality deriving from it, has had on everyday life by examining its foundational influence in Rome, one of the world’s oldest and most culturally rich and spiritual cities.”