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Key documents from Vatican archives to be placed on public exhibit

July 05, 2011

The Vatican today announced plans for an unprecedented public display of key documents from its archives, giving “the wider public its first chance to enter the reality of the Vatican Secret Archives.”

The exhibit, which will open next February in Rome's Capitoline Museums, will include 100 selected documents selected to represent the rich Vatican treasury of historical data. Those documents will include the Dictatus Papae of Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085); a letter from Pope Clement VII to the British parliament regarding the matrimonial case of King Henry VIII; and the records of the trial of Galileo. The exhibit will be displayed in a Roman museum, rather than at the Vatican itself. At a July 5 press conference announcing the plan, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, explained that “the inherent richness of this exhibition is amplified by the fact that it is being organized outside the Vatican, on the Capitol Hill which symbolically represents the 'heart' of Rome and its relationship with the papal city down the centuries.” Rome’s Mayor Giovanni Alemanno, who joined in the press conference, praised this “courageous gesture on the part of the Holy See.”

(The Vatican archives are routinely called the “Secret Archives” although much of the material in the collection is routinely made available to scholars and researchers. The documents to be included in the 2012 exhibit are not secret, although they have not previously been available for public display.)


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