Gaucho exhibition at Vatican a tribute to pope's homeland
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Gauchos, the legendary Argentine cowboys from the vast Pampas of Pope Francis's homeland, are being celebrated in a rare exhibition in no less a place than St. Peter's Square.
Called "Argentina - The Gaucho, Tradition, Art and Faith," it opened on Friday in the Braccio Carlo Magno exhibition space under the square's left colonnade.
But the pope, who is expected to visit it privately, had nothing to do with bringing a taste of his homeland's celebrated cowboy culture to the Vatican.
"It was providence that an Argentine pope was elected in March," said Maria Pimentel, one of the Argentine curators. "It was decided in August, 2012, before Pope Benedict resigned."
"But we are so happy to have an Argentine pope. He knows all about the gauchos," she said at the opening.
The exhibition includes more than 200 paintings, drawings, ponchos, textiles, photographs, musical instruments and artefacts - many more than a hundred years old - recounting the lives and frontier culture of the horsemen and cattle herders.
"Most of these are from private collections and many have never left Argentina before," Pimentel said.
The collection abounds with silver, fittingly so because Argentina derives from "argentum," the Latin word for silver which inspired the European explorers who named it when they heard the area was rich in the precious metal. Continued...