.- As part of the celebration of “European Heritage Days,” an initiative of the Council of Europe, the Holy See will participate with more than 40 countries by offering free admission to the Vatican Museums and the Catacombs of Rome on Sunday.
The Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, the Vatican Museums and the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archeology are all collaborating in the event.
Visitors this September 24th will, with their free entrance, have the opportunity of seeing all of the regular portions of the Vatican Museums, along with the recently-restored Christian Museum of Pope Benedict XIV.
All catacombs in Rome that are normally open to the public will also be free of charge. At the San Callisto Catacombs on the Old Appian Way a photographic exhibition will be inaugurated entitled "Charity, solidarity and the catacombs."
The Council of Europe officially instituted the "European Heritage Days" (EHDs) in 1991, with the support of the European Union. But the initial events began in 1985. Since they were launched on a European scale, the EHDs have increased in importance from year to year in terms of both the number of participating countries, which has risen from 11 in 1991 to 48 in 2002, and their success with the public (in 2004 there were more than 20 million visitors to the 32,000 monuments and sites open to the public).