Pope Francis has revealed that the Vatican will rent out the Sistine Chapel for a corporate event for the first time in its 600-year history.
Porsche will hire the revered chapel, which is covered in Michelangelo's stunning frescoes, and put on a private concert for 40 lucky – and high paying – guests. The concert, which takes place on Saturday, will be one stop on an exclusive tour of Rome organised by the car brand.
The Vatican has not divulged how much it will earn from the event, but the five-day tour of Italy's capital, arranged by the Porsche Travel Club, costs up to €5,000 a head, meaning an overall intake of €200,000, reported The Telegraph.
The concert will be performed by a choir from the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, which traces its origins back to the 16th century. Participants will then sit down to a meal in the midst of the Vatican Museum, "surrounded by masterpieces by world-famous artists such as Michelangelo and Raphael".
"It's a one-off event and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," a spokeswoman for the Porsche Travel Club told The Telegraph. "It will be the highlight of the trip."
Proceeds from the event will go to charities working with the poor and homeless.
But the unprecedented news has been accompanied by an announcement that the Vatican will limit the number of visitors allowed inside the chapel, where visitors must be silent and cannot take photographs, to six million a year, amid fears that the frescoes are being damaged by the breath and sweat of so many tourists.
The Sistine Chapel receives 25,000 visitors a day and its primary function is to be the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new Pope is selected.