The Room of the Immaculate Conception was commissioned by Pope Pius IX following the Promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception on 8th December 1854. The decoration of this room, which is immediately next to the Raphael Rooms, is devoted wholly to this theme.
The painter, Francesco Podesti, a native of Ancona and linked for many years to the Roman artistic and academic scene, was entrusted with the delicate commission.
The episodes frescoed on the large walls and on the vault refer to the Immaculate Conception and to the celebrations that took place on 8 December 1854: The Promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, The discussion of the Immaculate Conception, The Coronation of the Image of the Immaculate Conception, Stories and Allegorical Figures. The six octagons in the vault depict Faith, the Doctrine and episodes from the Old Testament, namely: The survivors with Noah's Ark in the background; Joel killing Sisera; Ester who faints in front of Assuero; Judith with the Head of Holofernes.
The artist also designed and carried out the creation of the doors and window hatches, all in wood, and of the inlaid marble frames, as well as the positioning of the Roman mosaic from Ostia Antica, purchased expressly for this room.
In 1867 the library - furniture of the Immaculate Conception was made and positioned in the centre of the room. It contains the many translations of the Bull Ineffabilis Deus. This refined piece of furniture was designed and constructed by the French firm Christofle between 1874 and 1878.
Since 2007 visitors can admire the Room of the Immaculate Conception, now restored to its original beauty. The restoration of the Room of the Immaculate Conception, launched in 2006 by the then Director of the Vatican Museums, Francesco Buranelli, was necessitated by the detachment of sections of the painted surfaces resulting from structural aspects of the Borgia Tower, where the room is located.
Before the restoration could be initiated, research was undertaken by the Scientific Research Laboratory of the Vatican Museums, under the direction of Professor Ulderico Santamaria. Special attention was given to analyzing the typology of colours used at the end of the nineteenth century to create a large fresco.
The historical artistic part of the restoration was overseen by Micol Forti, Curator of the XIX-XX Century Art Department, and the technical part by the Master Maurzio De Luca, Director of the Painting and Wood Materials Restoration Laboratory of the Vatican Museums. The work coordinator: Francesca Persegati, Site Manager and Head of a Team from the Painting Restoration Laboratory of the Vatican Museums, namely, Bruno Baratti, Angela Cerreta, Eugenio Ercadi, Giancarlo Manuli, Bruno Marocchini, Antonella Papa, Francesco Prantera, Alessandra Zarelli.