Nathan A. Popp, a University of Iowa doctoral candidate in Art History, recently completed a three-month study in Rome. Popp was awarded the Ann Morse Scholarship to take part in an Italian language program while conducting dissertation research in museums, libraries and other archives throughout Italy. Popp’s dissertation focuses on Queen Christina of Sweden’s use of art and visual culture to establish authority and assert power. When Christina became Queen of Sweden at 6 in 1632, she inherited a Protestant nation forged strong by war, but it was a country that lagged behind in cultural and intellectual matters. Throughout her reign, Christina endeavored to reinvent her capital as the “Athens of the North.” She utilized art patronage to underscore her right to rule and to craft an enlightened reputation. Christina accomplished her goal by establishing a scholastic academy, collecting art, and patronizing the performing arts as methods to declare that Stockholm was no longer a cultural backwater. Christina abdicated her throne in 1654, converted to Catholicism, and relocated to Rome where she became a prominent figure in papal politics. Since Queen Christina bequeathed her estate to the Catholic Church, the majority of Nathan’s summer was spent conducting research in the Vatican Library Archives, the Vatican Museum, and in St. Peter’s Basilica. Popp’s discoveries earned him the support of the Holy See, and Pope Francis I awarded him a blessing during a papal audience about his findings. In addition to his efforts in Rome, Nathan’s dissertation work has been well received in Stockholm and he has been given full access to the Royal Collections by King Gustav XVI Adolf of Sweden. Along with governmental support, Popp was awarded the T. Anne Cleary International Dissertation Research Fellowship and the Charles D. Cuttler Art History Fellowship to continue his research in Europe during the upcoming academic year. Nathan is the son of Dennis and Kristie Popp of Belmont.