View Full Version : Galileo's Heresy Trial, Henry VIII's Divorce Plea, 'hermaphrodite' Swedish Queen Christina - Vatican Archives on Display

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 12:13 AM
Galileo's heresy trial and Henry VIII's divorce plea: Vatican Secret Archives on display

Parchment documents relating to Galileo's heresy trial, the execution of Mary Queen of Scots and Henry VIII's divorce will go on display today in an unprecedented exhibition of 100 documents from the Vatican Secret Archives


The archives, jealously guarded by popes and cardinals for centuries and kept under lock and key, contain one of the world's richest collections of historical papers, spanning more than 1,000 years, from the 8th century until modern times.

They reflect the Holy See's dealings with a who's who of famous historical figures, including Michelangelo, Voltaire, the Borgias, Mozart, Adolf Hitler and Abraham Lincoln, and are normally seen only by strictly vetted scholars.

Few of the leather-bound documents, which are packed into more than 50 miles of shelves and protected in climate-controlled chambers, have ever left the walls of the city state.

They have been specially brought together for an exhibition which will run until September in Rome's Capitoline Museums.

The exhibition, called "Lux in Arcana: The Vatican Secret Archives Revealed", commemorates the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the archives in their present location.

It is also designed to counter some of the myths and mystique created by works of fiction such as Dan Brown's Angels and Demons.

The archives provide one of the key settings in Brown's thriller, in which Harvard "symbologist" Robert Langdon, races against time to stop a secret religious order, the Illuminati, from destroying the Vatican.

The priceless collection includes legal documents relating to the 14th century heresy trials of the Knights Templar and a letter written on birch bark in 1887 by the Ojibwe Indians of Ontario, Canada, to Pope Leo XIII.

The collection also features the papal order which excommunicated Martin Luther in 1520 and a letter written by Mary Queen of Scots to Pope Sixtus V a few months before she was beheaded for plotting against her cousin, Elizabeth I.

The collection includes an appeal by the English Parliament asking the Pope to annul Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

The letter, which bears the red wax seals of more than 80 English lords, cardinals and bishops, was sent to Pope Clement VII in 1530 but failed to resolve the dispute, which eventually led to religious schism and the founding of the Church of England.

One of the most unusual documents is the abdication letter of the 'hermaphrodite' Queen Christina of Sweden, who caused a scandal when she stepped down from her throne and converted from Lutheranism to Catholicism in 1654.

Source (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/9111718/Galileos-heresy-trial-and-Henry-VIIIs-divorce-plea-Vatican-Secret-Archives-on-display.html)


Vatican Secret Archives reveal abdication letter of 'hermaphrodite' Swedish queen

The abdication letter of a "hermaphrodite" Swedish queen is one of 100 unusual documents from the Vatican Secret Archives which will go on display on Wednesday in an unprecedented exhibition.


Queen Christina of Sweden caused a scandal when she stepped down from the throne and converted from the state religion of Lutheranism to Catholicism in 1654.

Known for her unconventional dress sense, deep voice and masculine behaviour, she is believed to have been born with a mix of female and male genitals and hormones.

An intense relationship with one of her ladies-in-waiting, with whom she sometimes shared a bed, fuelled rumours that the queen was a lesbian.

An eight-page parchment document that announced her abdication, complete with seals from members of the Swedish parliament, will be part of the exhibition of 100 documents in Rome's Capitoline Museums.

Only 25 of the documents have been announced so far the rest will be revealed on Wednesday.


After her conversion to the Catholic faith and renunciation of the Swedish throne, Christina moved to Rome, where she was triumphantly received by the Church.

She initially stayed in the Tower of Winds, a frescoed tower inside the Vatican Secret Archives, but later moved into Palazzo Farnese, which is now the French embassy.

She had a French marquis murdered in her presence after he betrayed her plans to become Queen of Naples.

She died in 1689 and is one of the few women to be buried in St Peter's Basilica.

Scientists exhumed her body in 1965 to search for skeletal evidence that she was a hermaphrodite but the results were inconclusive.

Even so, she became a symbol of lesbianism and cross-dressing in the 20th century and inspired plays and musicals.

The Secret Archives exhibition, which commemorates the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the archives in their present location, runs until Sept 9.

Source (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/9111168/Vatican-Secret-Archives-reveal-abdication-letter-of-hermaphrodite-Swedish-queen.html)

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 12:40 AM


Here's the official homepage of the exhibition

Lux in Arkana (http://www.luxinarcana.org)

Unfortunately, the docs themselves are not available for close examination.