The Vatican Secret Archives

Yesterday, Mark, our dean Michael Simons, and I went to the Capitoline Museums in Rome.  The Capitoline is one of the most famous of Rome’s museums, but we actually spent most of our time at the absolutely incredible exhibition of the Vatican Secret Archives (there was an amusing note explaining that in Italian “segreto” just means “private,” not “secret”…but they felt pretty secret to me).  For those interested in law and religion, you really couldn’t ask for a more exciting exhibit.

Among the many highlights:

  • The Dictatus Papae of Pope Gregory VII
  • A petition from many members of the House of Lords asking Pope Clement VII to grant Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon, to which they attached their individual seals
  • Leo X’s papal bull excommunicating Luther, and Charles V’s corresponding imperial edict divesting Luther of any civil protection
  • A surprisingly obsequious letter by Voltaire to Pope Benedict XIV telling him in ornate terms how great he was (in fact, he was pretty great)

I surreptitiously (‘segretamente’) took a few pictures of some additional documents of special relevance, which I’ll put up when I get back.

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