Vatican trip reunion dinner – Singapore 1 November 2023.


Singapore patrons and friends gathered for a reunion dinner at Hai Tien Lo restaurant, happy to meet each other again and reminisce about the APAVM trips that they had been on together.

Our bonds were strong enough to draw Bruce Hemmingsen and his wife Jentana to Singapore. The 3-time veterans of the patrons’ trips, flew all the way from Bangkok to Singapore just for this reunion dinner.

Also present were Daniel and Vivian Li from Hong Kong. They were travelling and missed the Hong Kong reunion dinner a week earlier. Happily their travel plans included Singapore and they were able to attend the reunion here. The couple have become very enthusiastic patrons after going on the 2023 trip. Read Vivien’s account of the trip here.

Chairman Ben Chang had painstakingly selected the best photos from the 2022 and 2023 trips and put them together in 2 photo albums which were distributed to the patrons present. These photos were put in a slide show that was screened as we dined on classic Cantonese dishes.

Towards the end of dinner, Ben Chang gave a presentation about APAVM, emphasising its central mission of raising funds for the restoration of the priceless art and architecture of the Vatican.

He began his talk by recalling the 5 trips that the Asian Patrons have made so far in 2016, 2017, 2018 2022 and 2023. He then announced the coming trip which will be to Naples, Rome and the Vatican, scheduled for September 2024.

Ben then spoke of APAVM’s contributions to various restoration projects at the Vatican. To date, APAVM has contributed USD$1.43 million to diverse projects that range from architecture to Chinese silk painting.

This was followed by an announcement of the latest project which APAVM will be contributing to, which is the restoration of the “Windows of the Loggia by Raphael”. The Vatican loggias are the corridors of the Apostolic Palace, the walls of which are decorated with frescos by Raphael. Raphael was commissioned to decorate three loggias of the Apostolic Palace located on three different floors, which are now known as the Loggia by Raphael.  Work began at the end of 1517 and the ceilings, pillars and walls of the loggias were decorated with stucco and frescos depicting mythological figures.  In the middle of XIV century under Pope Pius IX, all the openings of the loggias were closed by metal windows and the loggias were used as main access corridors to representative areas. These 600 year old windows have since deteriorated causing rain to seep in and damage the priceless frescoes. In order to restore and preserve the frescoes, the plan is to replace these windows with new, energy efficient ones, before restoring the frescoes back to their original colours.

This project will be a long and delicate intervention, but necessary to preserve these precious works for future generations.

The final segment of Ben’s presentation was on patron contributions. In the 8 years since the Asia Chapter inception in 2016, APAVM has raised USD1.43 million or just under USD180,000 per year. Ben noted that this is a “good start” for a new Chapter but still a fairly modest effort. The Board of APAVM therefore seeks Patrons support to meet the new target of raising USD 350,000 per year.

A main source of the restoration funds that APAVM raises comes from Patrons’ membership fees which makes up about 22% of USD1.43M raised so far. The membership fee enables Patrons to enjoy local APAVM events, talks and to participate in the trips to the Vatican. These trips are the highlight of all patrons’ activities and are highly curated and painstakingly planned by Ben Chang himself. Patron trips offer unparalleled access to places that are unavailable to the general public. Led by top rated guides, many of whom are university professors and experts in their field, each trip immerses patrons in the art, culture and history of the places visited.

Ben then announced that APAVM has launched a new approach towards the funding of restoration projects. This will be based on annual pledges to the restoration fund which will be disbursed to projects adopted by APAVM. The pledges come with free APAVM membership and other benefits depending on the amount donated. This is different from previous fundraising campaigns which have been on a project basis

The talk ended with the announcement of the upcoming lecture series in December 2023 with will feature the places that Patrons visited in all the APAVM trip, as well as Naples which will be part of the 2024 trip itinerary.

Patrons were also asked to save the dates for the APAVM annual dinner in January 2024. (5 to 7 January weekend in Hong Kong and 12-14 Jan weekend in Singapore. The exact date to be confirmed later.)