If you always wanted to see the Vatican museums, but never thought you’d get there, you can now check it out online. The site, www.vatican.va, allows visitors to take a virtual tour of some of the many museums and galleries that make up the Vatican collection.

There are opportunities to view Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling with 3D video or zoom in on paintings in the Raphael Rooms. Three are descriptions of the works shown available in Italian, French, English, Spanish and German. Visitors can also view entire galleries of the Egyptian museum, the Raphael Rooms and the Etruscan museum – as well as the Pinacoteca painting gallery.

The site also features the latest news from the Vatican as well as Vatican archives and libraries. Information on saints and a page dedicated to the Holy Rosary is also provided.

Vatican officials said the goal of the site is to give would-be tourists, scholars and Web surfers a sampling of the Vatican’s holdings, while taking advantage of the Internet and the “universal language” of art to spread Pope John Paul’s message, according to the Associated Press.

The museums portion of the Vatican Web site is launching some eight years after the

Vatican first came online.