.- A Holy See official says there is nothing mysterious about the Vatican Secret Archives that have recently gone on display, but that they normally remain private because of their incalculable value.
âThe doors of the Vatican Secret Archives have essentially been open since 1881 to qualified researchers who wish to carry historical research that is generally drawn out and complicated,â Msgr. Sergio Pagano, the prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, told CNA.
The current âLux in Arcanaâ exhibit at Romeâs Capitoline Museum was created to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Vatican's Secret Archives and includes notable items such as the 1521 decree from Pope Leo X excommunicating German monk Martin Luther.
Msgr. Pagano noted that the expo that opened this week marks the first time in 400 years that the public at large has been granted extensive access to the Vatican Archives.
It includes some of the most treasured documents of the Archives as well as multimedia resources allowing visitors to learn about the work of the Popes throughout the centuries.
Among the documents on display is one of the last letters written by Queen Mary of Scots, who told Pope Sixtus V she was giving her life in defense of the Catholic faith.
Msgr. Pagano said the letter was written while Queen Mary âwas in prison awaiting her death. In it she expresses her sentiments of fidelity as a Catholic saying that she is dying because of the injustice of Protestant England and because of her sins. This letter has great religious significance,â he said.
Pier Paolo Piergentile, official in charge of the display, said the letter is âa sort of spiritual testament that she wrote professing her faith and asking the Pope to in some way testify to her belonging to the Catholic lineage, to the Catholic faith of her predecessors.â
Cardinal Raffaele Farina, the head of the Archives, said the purpose of the display is to shed light on the idea that the public in general has about the Vatican Secret Archives.
He noted that other items on display include documents related to the case of Galileo and the Bull from members of the English Parliament to Pope Clement VII on the annulment of Henry VIIIâs marriage.
The display also includes documents from the period of Pius XII on the bombardment of the Vatican during World War.
The exhibition will be open to the public through Sept. 9.