Vatican treasures on display at Capitoline Museums in Rome
Historical wonders, hundreds of year's old granted public exhibition
The Vatican has agreed to display some of its historical treasures to
the public in a special exhibition at in Rome's Capitoline Museums.
Entitled "Lux in Arcana: The Vatican Secret Archives Reveals itself,"
the exhibition provides a tour of the Church as well as western
The Vatican has put on display to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the establishment of its archives at its current location in Rome. Just a small fraction of its archives comprise the exhibit, and it is the first, and possibly the only time, the documents will be seen outside the Vatican walls.
Some of the documents on display include:
-- A letter from an English nobleman to Pope Clement VII in 1530 that demands that King Henry VIII be allowed to divorce Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn.
-- An 1887 letter from a Native American chief written on a strip of bark that refers to the pope as the "Grand Master of Prayers."
-- The astronomer Galileo's retraction of his theories of the galaxy after his trial on heresy charges in 1633.
-- Documents from the trials of the Knights Templar. In particular is a 180-foot-long parchment scroll from the trials of the Knights Templar in Paris in 1309-1311.
It contains the depositions of 231 knights from the order of warrior monks, who were accused by the Church and King Philip IV "the Fair" of France of heresy, idolatry and sodomy.
The latter charge was based on accusations of sexual "obscenities." during secret initiation rites. More than 50 knights were executed and Pope Clement V dissolved the order by apostolic decree in 1312.
-- The excommunication decree of reform leader Martin Luther.
-- The abdication deed of Queen Christina of Sweden. Rumored to be a hermaphrodite, she gave up her throne in 1654 to convert to Catholicism and move to Rome.
Of particular interest to followers of British history is the a letter that was sent on Henry VIII's orders to Pope Clement VII in 1530 and was signed by members of the English parliament, as well as bishops, abbots and the Archbishops of York and Canterbury.
They urged the Pope to annul Henry's marriage to Catherine so that he could marry one of her ladies-in-waiting, Anne Boleyn, in the hope of producing a longed for male heir.
"If the Pope is unwilling, we are left to find a remedy elsewhere. Some remedies are extreme, but a sick man seeks relief in any way he can find," the lords wrote in a transparent threat.
Henry had fallen in love with Boleyn in 1526 and was desperate for his marriage to Catherine to be annulled, a struggle against the Vatican that he referred to as his "great matter."
Henry married Boleyn in 1533 but Clement VII declared the union invalid and five years later the King was excommunicated by Clement's successor, Paul III.
The confrontation led to a split with the Catholic Church and the start of the English Reformation.
Mysteriously went missing in the late 19th century, the letter was rediscovered in 1926 - hidden in a small chest beneath a wooden chair.
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