Monday, May 14, 2012

Rome: Secrets of the Vatican Revealed

Gertrud and I are currently in Rome, having last been here in May 2009 when I wrote a post entitled “La Dolce Vita.” This time around my post will focus exclusively on "Lux in Arcana," a first-ever public exhibit of 100 original documents from the Vatican's Secret Archives which we viewed in Rome's Capitoline Museums.  Here is the official website for the exhibition:

I was especially impressed with the following documents which are presented in no particular order of importance:

Petition from Nicolaus Copernicus to Pope Paul III regarding his studies of the universe. Date: June 1, 1542

Proceedings of the Trial of Galileo Galilei which found him guilty of heresy for defending the Copernican system: Various dates between 1616 and 1633: 

Pope Alexander VI’s “Inter cetera bull” in which he "granted" the new lands discovered by Columbus to the rulers of Spain: March 4, 1493.

Pope Leo X’s excommunication of Martin Luther: January 3, 1521

Emperor Charles V’s edict at Worms establishing an imperial ban against Martin Luther: May 8, 1521

Letter from members of the English Parliament (with all wax seals attached) to Pope Clement VII emphasizing the importance of granting the annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to  Catherine of Aragon so that he could marry Anne Boleyn, and hopefully sire the longed-for heir to the throne: July 13, 1530

Letter from Russian Tsar Aleksei I Romanov to Pope Clement X, requesting support against common threats posed by the Ottoman Turks: October 21, 1672

Concordant between King Henry V and Pope Calixtus II which ended the struggle over investitures.  It provided that ecclesiastical investiture of bishops be reserved for the Church and that feudal investiture (including that of the bishops) be reserved for the emperor. September 23, 1122.

Pope Bonface VIII’s “Unam sanctam” stating that there is only one Church founded by Christ, and that outside it there can be no salvation. It also states that to maintain the universal order desired by God, popes can depose emperors and kings.  It further declares that “submitting to the Roman pontiff, is necessary for the salvation of every human creature:” November 18, 1302

Pope Innocent X’s brief declaring the Westphalia Peace Treaties, which ended the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), null and void. Although this letter was never published, it reflected the Pope’s concern that the treaties negotiated between Catholic and Protestant diplomats would do irreparable damage to the Catholic Church: November 26, 1648

The 1801 Napoleonic Concordat between France and the Papacy which recognized the Catholic Church’s pre-eminence in the life of France but guaranteed the freedom of worship to other religions as well.  It also deemed that Catholicism would no longer be the “state religion.”

Declaration by the College of Cardinals that the newly installed Pope, Urban VI, was an apostate and an anti-Christ, and that he was being deposed as Pope.  This was signed shortly after the Church returned to Rome following the 70 years period of “Babylonian Captivity” when seven French Popes resided in Avignon, France: August 9, 1378.

A desperate, handwritten note from Marie Antoinette from prison after she had been deposed as Queen: December 1792 or January 1793

Proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception signed by Pius IX which declared the Blessed Virgin Mary free from the stain of original sin: December 8, 1854

Letter from Lucrezia Borgia to her father, Pope Alexander VI. June 10, 1494

Abdication letter of Queen Christine of Sweden when she converted to Catholicism: June 1, 1654

Mary Stuart’s last letter, written to Pope Sixtus V, in which she professed her Catholic faith.  This was shortly before she was beheaded on the order of Queen Elizabeth I: November 23, 1586. 

Agreement temporarily unifying the Greek and Latin Churches: July 6, 1439

The Lunario Novo which eliminated 10 days from the 1582 Calendar and established the Gregorian calendar: 1582

Letter from the French philosopher and deist, Voltaire to Pope Benedict XIV: October 10, 1745

Report to the Vatican by the Apostolic Nuncio to Italy on the existence of the Ferramonti Concentration Camp: May 27, 1941.

Letter written on silk, from Helena, the last Ming Empress to Pope Innocent X: November 4, 1650 (11th day of the 10th moon of the 4th year in the reign of emperor Youngli).

Letters written in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis to Pope Pius IX during the US Civil War.

I'm sure you will agree that this is an impressive list of documents which have had a great impact on Western civilization and on the history of the World. We feel very fortunate to have seen the originals.

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