Vatican archive treasures go on show for 1st time
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."