Studio Abruzzo, In Principle (and Beyond), 2013, rendering.

The Venice Biennale has finally earned a stamp of approval from the Vatican, which will have a pavilion for the first time this year, in its 55th outing. After announcing its intention to exhibit last year, the Vatican has kept the details of its pavilion hidden until today, just two weeks before the exhibition's opening date.

Curated by Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, the pavilion "In the Beginning" will focus on the Book of Genesis. It will be located in the Sale d’Armi, a newly-renovated section of the Arsenale. The theme of creation will be addressed by the Milanese new media collective Studio Azzurro with an interactive installation. Photos by the Paris-based Czech photojournalist Josef Koudelka will represent "uncreation," and Lawrence Carroll, an American painter based in Venice, Calif., will encapsulate re-creation through his use of recycled materials.

In the newsletter, released by the Vatican press office Tuesday morning, Biennale director Paolo Baratta called the participation a "confirmation of significance of the Biennale" at a moment when contemporary art has finally "become popular."

The Holy See's participation marks an effort to establish "a renewed, modern patronage" for the Church. Commissioner Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, has worked to revitalize relations between the Vatican and the art world for some time, initially hoping to enter a pavilion in the 2011 Biennale.

The organizers and the artists have both noted that the artists' religious beliefs were not a consideration in their selection for the project.

Studio Azzurro (Fabio Cirifino, Paolo Rosa, Leonardo Sangiorgi and Stefano Roveda) has made interactive environments, videos and performances since 1982, and has shown work at Documenta 8, the Ars Electronica festival in Linz, Austria and MAXXI in Rome, as well as film festivals and theaters internationally.

Koudelka is known for black-and-white photography capturing European life and landscapes. Born in 1938 in Boskovice, Czechoslovakia, his best-known work includes his documentation of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Prague, which was published anonymously and received an award from the Overseas Press Club in 1969. He now lives and works in the Czech Republic and France. His work has been exhibited at venues including the Hayward Gallery (London), New York's Museum of Modern Art, and the Palais de Tokyo, Paris.

Carroll's paintings incorporate sculptural elements and materials including wood, cloth and paper. Born in 1954 in Melbourne, Australia, he moved four years later to Los Angeles, where he still lives and works. He has exhibited at the Hotel des Arts, Toulon, the Museu Correr, Venice,and Documenta 9.

The Holy See is one of 10 Biennale first-timers, along with Angola, Bahamas, Kingdom of Bahrain, Ivory Coast, Republic of Kosovo, Kuwait, Maldives, Paraguay and Tuvalu. The biennial runs June 1-Nov. 24.