Thursday, January 12, 2006

Italy: Secret Vatican Archives Accessible through Internet

DATE: O1.11.06


The Vatican Archives, one of the world's most important historical research centers, with over 630 different archival sources extending over more than 85 kilometers of shelves, covering over 800 yeras of history, can now be visited on the Internet at

After selecting the language, the page offers a virtual tour among frescoes and documents in its "Focus" section, although the language selection is currently limited to English and Italian only.

The oldest document dates back to the 7th century, while uninterrupted documentation is maintained from the year 1198 onward. Thanks to new technology, it is possible to leaf through the parchment in which Pope Clement grants absolution to the leaders of the Knights Templar (17-20 August, 1308), Michelangelo Buonarotti's letter to the Bishop of Cesena (January 1550) or the minutes of the trial of Galileo Galilei (1616-1633).

The holdings of the Vatican Archives are crucial to the study of history, whether due to the documents that affect Christian civilization, or those having to do with the history of various nations," explains the web site for the Archbishopric of Madrid.

"As far as some countries are concerned, the Vatican documents are the oldest, the first ones, which witness the start of their national history," explains the Vatican web site.

The Vatican Archive is employed, first and foremost, byt the Pope and his collaborators in the Holy See, as set forth in Pope Leon XIII "motu proprio" of May 10, 1884. That same Pope allowed access to researchers in 1881, turning it into "the world's most important historic research facility"

(Translation (c) 2006, S. Corrales, IHU. Special thanks to Inma Roca)


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