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Revealed with pride and without remorse

· Secret Archive Documents for the first time outside the Vatican walls for the exhibition 'Lux in arcana' ·

The exhibition “Lux in arcana. The Vatican Secret Archives Revealed” at the Capitoline Museums in Rome opened to the public on Wednesday afternoon, 29 February. About 100 documents are on exhibit for the first time outside Vatican City State and will remain on view until 9 September. The exhibition – whose Catalogue is published by Palombi (Rome, 2012, 224 pages, € 14) – is organized by Zètema Progetto Cultura and curated by Alessandro Gonzato, Marco Maiorino, Pier Paolo Piergentili and Gianni Venditti. We publish below a translation of the introduction to the Catalogue, written in Italian by the Cardinal Archivist and Librarian.

As Archivist and Librarian of Holy Roman Church I have the rare pleasure of being able to present an exhibition that does not only concern a Vatican institution, even one as prestigious as the Vatican Secret Archives (which has chosen to celebrate its fourth centenary this way), but also an equally prestigious municipal institution of Rome, the Capitoline Museums, where the exhibition will be on display for about seven months.

Very ancient and precious Pontifical Documents, as well as important letters concerning the life of the Church in the world have left the Vatican environment for the first time and are on display for visitors to the Capitoline Hill, the traditional seat of the Government of Rome which has so many ties with the Roman Papacy.

Historical and spiritual connections are at the root of the project of the Vatican exhibition at the Capitoline. “The Vatican Secret Archives Revealed” — the subtitle of the exhibition says, and they are revealed in the centre of the City to connoisseurs and to anyone who is curious; they are revealed through a sample of the great wealth of their documentation.

The Vatican Archives are revealed without hesitation or fear, on the contrary, with the pride of having served the Church and culture over the course of four centuries, unflagging in the task of safeguarding, cataloguing, looking after and making progress in ever more advanced research.

The Vatican Archives are revealed as a cultural environment, a fascinating appeal to our memory of the past, the past of the Church, of empires, kingdoms, duchies and republics. The archives are an incentive to raise the standard of knowledge beyond the empty stereotype to which, if I am not mistaken, much of the current so-called “mass culture” unfortunately leads.

As I wish the exhibition a more than foreseeable success, I feel duty bound to thank all the Vatican organizers, and in a special way Bishop Sergio Pagano, Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, hence also his effective collaborators who have devoted so much energy, enthusiasm and dedication to this project and so many long hours of preparation and study.




St. Peter’s Square

Nov. 18, 2019