The last of the rooms aligned in the wing of the papal palace built by Nicholas V (1447-1455) and defined as “secret rooms”, reserved for private use by the pontiff, is named after the Mysteries of Faith, or rather the exceptional events in the most significant episodes during the life of the Virgin Mary and of Christ: the Annunciation, the Birth of Christ, the Adoration of the Magi, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, and the Assumption of the Virgin.
The first three and the last two episodes represent, respectively, joyful and triumphant moments in the life of Mary, to whom Pope Alexander VI was particularly devoted.
This was the last room decorated by Pinturicchio, who entrusted it largely to his workshop, and who produced his masterpiece in the memorable and splendid expressive portrait of Alexander VI, attired in lavish pontifical vestments and kneeling at the feet of Christ in the Resurrection.
The room is crowned with a vault in the form of a cross with two larger bays separated by an arch, decorated with the usual profusion of heraldic emblems (bull, double crown) and in the lower bays, eight medallions depicting the busts of prophets identified as Micah, Joel, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Isaiah, Solomon, Malachi and David, holding scrolls on which verses are inscribed, foretelling the Mysteries below.
The restoration works completed in 2006 recovered the original brilliance of the colours and revealed that the decoration of the walls, considered to have been from the eighteenth century and covered with tapestries when the room was adapted to accommodate the works of the Collection of Modern Religious Art (1973), were instead originals. Various faux niches emerged, in which liturgical objects and papal insignia were located, as well as refined grotesques, imitating the Roman paintings which had been discovered during those years in Nero’s Domus Aurea, giving rise to a taste for the antique. This tendency was widespread and enjoyed limitless success throughout the whole of the sixteenth century and would certainly have been known to Pinturicchio.