‘Aquaman’ star Jason Momoa apologizes for taking pictures inside Sistine Chapel after blowback

Hollywood actor Jason Momoa, famous for a number of roles he’s played, including “Aquaman,” has apologized for making a slight boo-boo during a recent visit to the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City.

On Monday, May 9th, the ripped Hollywood actor published a bunch of photos to Instagram of him and presumably his friends/family at the Sistine Chapel.

View the Instagram post below:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jason Momoa (@prideofgypsies)

There was just one tiny problem …

The Sistine Chapel has long forbidden visitors from taking photos. Them’s the rules, and everybody has to follow them. Or so it was thought.

As photos of Momoa at the chapel went viral, some critics began complaining about his celebrity privilege.

“We, regular people, are not allowed to film inside the Sistine chapel 😢,” one critic wrote on his Instagram post.

“We can’t take pics but ofc celebrities can 😔 nothing against Jason ( I adore him) but it’s not fair,” another added.

Criticism could also be seen on Twitter:

As you can tell, the criticism hasn’t been mean-spirited. It’s mainly come from fans who still “adore” and “love” Momoa, but who nevertheless find it a bit annoying that he received what they say is special treatment.

And so in response to the criticism, the Hollywood actor issued an apology while recording a workout video for his fans.

In the apology, he explained that his intent hadn’t been to take photos — but that so many people had wanted to take photos with him that he’d decided to say yes.

“I just wanted to say, if you ever thought that I disrespected your culture, it wasn’t my intention. I came here when I was 19 or 20 to really experience the Sistine Chapel and come to the Vatican. So I’ve always wanted to, and now that I can, I gave a wonderful donation to bring my friends and crew because we only had a couple days off to experience these places,” he explained.

“And then I found people really wanted to take pictures with me, which is very odd, during a trip to the Vatican with all this wonder and they want to take pictures with me, which I don’t get, but regardless, I did. I was very respectful and I asked for permission from what I thought, would be okay. I would never want to do anything to disrespect someone’s culture. So if I did, I apologize. It wasn’t my intention. And I definitely paid to have that private moment and gave a nice donation to the church. So I love you. I’m sorry if I offended you. And my apologies.”


The irony is that the Sistine Chapel’s no-photo rule has nothing to do with anyone’s culture.

Mental Floss magazine explains that when Vatican officials decided in the 1980s “to undertake a comprehensive restoration of Michelangelo’s art in the chapel,” they realized they couldn’t afford such an exorbitant endeavor. And so they reached out for help and wound up signing a $3 million contract with the Nippon Television Network Corporation of Japan.

But in exchange for Nippon TV funding the endeavor, Vatican officials agreed to grant the company “exclusive rights to photography and video of the restored art, as well as photos and recordings of the restoration process by photographer Takashi Okamura, who was commissioned by Nippon TV.”

There’s a small catch, though. Nippon TV’s copyright rights have since expired. However, for reasons that remain unclear, Vatican officials ultimately decided to go ahead and leave the no-photo rule in place. Mental Floss magazine suspects it may be because of the risk modern-camera flash poses to ancient art.

“Given the damage that can be caused by thousands of cameras’ flashes going off in the chapel each day, it’s no surprise that Vatican officials decided not to end the ban when Nippon’s contract expired. After all, the chapel houses some of the greatest art in the world—and a gift shop stocked with souvenir photos, of course,” the magazine notes.

As for Momoa being allowed to snap photos inside the Sistine Chapel, it may not have been because of celebrity privilege after all. Mental Floss notes that enforcement of the rule “isn’t exactly strict.”

Fact-check: VERY TRUE!


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