Vatican archive treasures go on show for 1st time
  • This Section
  • Latest
  • Web Wrap
Last Updated: Thursday, March 01, 2012, 00:05
Rome: Vatican archives documenting centuries of European history including Galileo Galilei's trial documents and Martin Luther's excommunication went on public display for the first time on Wednesday.

The exhibit also includes the annulations of Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon and the 'Dictatus Papae' of Pope Gregory VII, an 11th-century script asserting the pontiff's spiritual and terrestrial powers.

The exhibit entitled "Lux in Arcana" in the Rome's Capitoline Museums will run until September 9 and organisers said it was a unique chance to see a priceless collection of documents from the Vatican's closely-guarded vaults.

"It will be the first and possibly the only time in history that they leave the confines of the Vatican City walls," organisers said in a statement.

They said the show has "100 original and priceless documents selected among the treasures preserved and cherished by the Vatican Secret Archives for centuries" and includes multimedia installations about the documents.

Among other treasures are a 10th-century parchment on the division of powers between pope and emperor and a document on the nomination of 13th-century hermit Pietro Morrone as Pope Celestine V -- the only pope ever to resign.

There is also a 15th-century edict from Pope Alexander VI on carving up the New World between Spain and Portugal after Columbus's discovery of America, as well as a secret code he used when he was besieged by French troops.

There are letters from Michelangelo about building St Peter's basilica in the 16th century, the deed of abdication by Queen Christina of Sweden from 1654 and a letter on silk from the 17th-century Chinese Empress Helena Wang.

Among the most unusual documents is a letter written on birch bark from the chief of the Ojibwa Native American tribe to Pope Leo XIII in the 19th century, calling him: "Grand Master of Prayers, who makes functions of Jesus."

Another rarity is a letter from imprisoned French queen Marie Antoinette after the revolution in 1789, which reads: "The feelings of those who share my sorrow... are the only consolation I can receive in this sad circumstance."


First Published: Thursday, March 01, 2012, 00:05

comments powered by Disqus