Saturday, 18 February 2012
Just another day at the Vatican
Friday morning, I cut Italian classes and headed to the Vatican. On legitimate business, I might add. I had finally -- after more than a month of nagging, wheedling, and cajoling -- snagged an interview with a senior official in the Vatican Secret Archives, as well as a tour.
This was all done in the cause of writing a feature story for the Italian news agency in advance of a fascinating exhibition coming up at the end of February. In this exhibition, the Vatican will unveil 100 documents representing a broad cross-section of subject matter, regions, and time periods.
Although the Vatican has kept records from its earliest days, it only organized these into a formal archive 400 years ago. To mark the occasion, it has organized the exhibition "Lux in Arcana" which begins Feb. 29 at Rome's Capitoline Museums.(The name of the exhibition roughly translates as shining light on arcane or unknown matters.)
I wasn't allowed to take photos in the archives, which were packed with fascinating information but looked very ordinary. Roughly 80 kilometers of shelving running under the Vatican's Apostolic Palace. Nothing glamorous or high-tech about it, I'm afraid.
I did have the opportunity to admire a 1,000-year-old document that is being carefully restored -- and it was gorgeous! Perfect gold script on a royal red background. I couldn't understand a word, of course, and I was told the subject of the document was terribly mundane -- but it was still stunning.
And since I was out at the Vatican anyway, I decided to spend a few hours in the museum which was curiously busy. Still, I enjoyed myself. As always. And, took a few photos, including the dour river god above; and one of the Vatican tennis courts, which seem to be on the roof of a building adjacent to the Museums.