Vatican City, Jun 14, 2018 / 09:27 am
After spending more than a decade in a private collection in Atlanta, a copy of a 1493 letter written by Christopher Columbus about his experience in America has been returned to its rightful place in the Vatican library.
Columbus penned the letter to Spanish King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1493 after returning from his voyage to America, describing what he saw during his travels.
The “Columbus Letter,” unofficially titled “Letter about the Recently Discovered Islands,” was then translated and manually printed into Latin, and several copies were distributed throughout Europe. Around 80 authentic copies still exist today.
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, @CallyGingrich, returned this morning a recovered copy of a letter written by Christopher Columbus to its rightful home at the Vatican Library. @USinHolySee #ColumbusLetter pic.twitter.com/iQKAHND4Kg— Vatican Library (@vaticanlibrary) June 14, 2018
One of the oldest copies of the 8-page letter, written in small, fine print, was given to the Vatican in 1921 as part of the “De Rossi Collection,” which consisted of rare books and manuscripts given to the Vatican at the request of bibliophile Giovanni Francesco Rossi upon his death in 1854.
At some point, though it is not known exactly when, the letter was stolen. It was not until 2011 that a rare book and manuscript expert became aware that the copy in the Vatican Library collection was a forgery after closely examining details in the stitching, chain lines and page size.
The expert then contacted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Homeland Security Investigations about the possible theft.