.- The Vatican announced today that it will once again take part in the annual "European Heritage Day", on September 25th, and will open all Vatican museums and Roman catacombs to the public for free that day. The "European Heritage Days" celebration is a yearly initiative sponsored by the Council of Europe. This year, more than 40 countries will explore the theme: "Memory and Identity. The 'traditio ecclesiae' in intercultural dialogue."
According to the Vatican, programs are being prepared by the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, the Vatican Museums, and the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology.
On the 25th itself, entrance to the Vatican Museums and to the catacombs of Rome will be free. Likewise, the Pio Christian Museum, part of the Vatican Museum system, will house an exhibition entitled: "The 'dogmatic' Sarcophagus, or the Sarcophagus 'of the two Testaments.' The burgeoning faith of the Church transmitted in images."
An exhibition will also be inaugurated in Rome's famed Catacombs of St. Calixtus that day entitled, "The 'traditio ecclesiae' in intercultural dialogue: reflections on the art of the catacombs." It will remain open until October 31.
Pope Benedict has spent considerable effort over recent months encouraging Europe to remember and return to its Christian roots. It is the Church and Christian culture, he has said, which helped made Europe great.