Vatican Secret Archives
Coat of arms of the Holy See

The Vatican Secret Archives (Latin: Archivum Secretum Vaticanum), located in Vatican City, is the central repository for all of the acts promulgated by the Holy See. The Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, having primal incumbency until death, owns the archives until the next appointed Papal successor. The archives also contain the state papers, correspondence, papal account books,[1] and many other documents which the church has accumulated over the centuries. In the 17th century, under the orders of Pope Paul V, the Secret Archives were separated from the Vatican Library, where scholars had some very limited access to them, and remained absolutely closed to outsiders until 1881, when Pope Leo XIII opened them to researchers, of whom now more than a thousand examine its documents each year.[2]

The use of the word "secret" in the title "Vatican Secret Archives" does not denote the modern meaning of confidentiality. Instead, it indicates that the archives are the Pope's personal property, not belonging to those of any particular department of the Roman Curia or the Holy See. The word "secret" was generally used in this sense as also reflected in phrases such as "secret servants", "secret cupbearer", "secret carver", much like an esteemed position of honor and regard comparable to a VIP.[3]

Contents

Extent

The Vatican Secret Archives have been estimated to contain 52 miles (84 km) of shelving,[4] and there are 35,000 volumes in the selective catalogue alone. "Indexes must be consulted in the Index Room and replaced in their original location. Publication of the indexes, in part or as a whole, is forbidden."[5] The Archives support their own photographic and conservation studios.

According to the website of the Archives, the oldest surviving document dates back to the end of the eighth century. "Transfers and political upheavals nearly caused the total loss of all the archival material preceding Innocent III."[6] From 1198 onwards, more complete archives exist, though documentation is a little scanty before the 13th century. Since that time, the documentation includes items such as Henry VIII of England's request for a marriage annulment,[7] and letters from Michelangelo.

Access

The entrance to the Archives, adjacent to the Vatican Library, is approached through the Porta di S. Anna in via di Porta Angelica (rione of Borgo). New underground storage space was added in 1980.[8]

There is no generic browsing, and researchers must ask for the precise document they wish to see, identifying it either by consulting the indices and must be granted an expressed written permission authorized by a ranking prelate for perusement. Even then, not many requests are granted entrance as the application process is long and rigorous.

The current Archivist is Cardinal Raffaele Farina. Cardinals Jorge María Mejía and Luigi Poggi are "Archivisti Emeriti" (former Archivists).

Opening of the archives

Customarily, documents are made available to the public after a period of 75 years.

  • 1883: Pope Leo XIII opened archives dated 1815 or earlier.
  • 1924: Documents up to the end of the pontificate of Gregory XVI (June 1, 1846) were released.
  • 1966: Documents from the pontificate of Pius IX (1846–78). (The opening of this material was originally planned during the pontificate of Pius XII.)
  • 1978: Documents from the pontificate of Leo XIII (1878–1903).
  • 1985: Documents from the pontificates of Pius X (1903–14) and Benedict XV (1914–22).
  • 2002 (effective from 2003): Documents from the historical archives of the Secretariat of State (Second Section) pertaining to the Holy See's relations with Germany during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI (1922–39). The reason for this exceptional action was "to put an end to unjust and thoughtless speculation."[9]
  • 2006: All documents from the pontificate of Pope Pius XI.[10]

Archivists of the Holy Roman Church

Prefects of the Vatican Secret Archives

  • Giuseppe Garampi (9 September 1751 – 27 January 1772)
  • Mario Zampini (1772–82)
  • Gaetano Marini (1782–1815)
  • Callisto Marini (1782–1822)
  • Marino Marini (1815–55)
  • Augustin Theiner, O.S.A. (6 December 1855 – June 1870)
  • Giuseppe Cardoni (8 June 1870 – March 1873)
  • Carlo Cristofori (14 April 1873 – 13 January 1877)
  • Francesco Rosi Bernardini (17 January 1877 – June 1879)
  • Joseph Hergenröther (9 June 1879 – 3 October 1890)
  • Agostino Ciasca, O.S.A. (13 June 1891 – July 1892)
  • Luigi Tripepi (19 September 1892-May 1894)
  • Peter Wenzel (28 July 1894 – 24 May 1909)
  • Mariano Ugolini (29 May 1909 – June 1925)
  • Angelo Mercati (22 May 1925 – October 1955)
  • Martino Giusti (1955 – April 1984)
  • Josef Metzler, O.M.I. (24 May 1984–1996)
  • Raffaele Farina (25 May 1997 – 25 June 2007)
  • Sergio Pagano, B. (7 January 1997 – present)

Other Holy See archives

There are other Holy See archives in Rome, since each department of the Roman Curia has its own archives. The word "secret" in its modern sense can be applied to some of the material kept by the Apostolic Penitentiary, when it concerns matters of the internal forum; but registers of the rescripts that it issued up to 1564 have been deposited in the Vatican Secret Archives and are open for consultation by qualified scholars. Half of these have already been put in digital form for easier consultation. The confidentiality of the material means that, in spite of the centuries that have passed since 1564, special rules apply to its publication.[11]

See also

References

Further reading

Ambrosini, Maria Luisa. The Secret Archives of the Vatican. Boston: Little, Brown, 1969 (republished 1996). ISBN 0-7607-0125-3
Blouin, Francis X. et al. (1998). Vatican Archives: An Inventory and Guide to Historical Documentation of the Holy See. New York, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509552-9. 
Pastor, Ludwig von. The history of the popes, from the close of the Middle Ages: (drawn from the secret archives of the Vatican and other original sources). from WorldCat. Reprints: Periodicals Service Company (New York) and Schmidt Periodicals GmbH (Germany)
Borromeo, Agostino. L'inquisizione : atti del Simposio internazionale, Città del Vaticano ( The inquisition: actions of the international Symposium, Vatican City), Biblioteca apostolica vaticana, 2003. ISBN 88-210-0761-8

External links

News articles


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Vatican Television Center — (VTC) 200px Created by Pope John Paul II Directed by Ugo Moretto Country of origin Vatican City La …   Wikipedia

  • Vatican City — State[1] Stato della Città del Vaticano[2] …   Wikipedia

  • Vatican Library — The Vatican Library (Latin: Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana ), is the library of the Holy See, currently located in Vatican City. It is one of the oldest libraries in the world and contains one of the most significant collections of historical… …   Wikipedia

  • Vatican Film Library — This article is about the Film Library in St. Louis, Missouri. For the one in the Vatican, see Vatican Library The Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library in St. Louis, Missouri is the only outside of the Vatican collection of over 37,000 works… …   Wikipedia

  • Secret history — A secret history (or shadow history) is a revisionist interpretation of either fictional or real (or known) history which is claimed to have been deliberately suppressed or forgotten. ecret histories of the real worldOriginally secret histories… …   Wikipedia

  • Vatican Council — • The twentieth and up to 1912, the last ecumenical council, opened on 8 December, 1869, and adjourned on 20 October, 1870 Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Vatican Council     Vatican Council …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Fundamental Law of Vatican City State — Vatican City State This article is part of the series: Politics and government of Vatican City State Fundamental Law Pope …   Wikipedia

  • The Vatican as a Scientific Institute —     The Vatican Palace, as a Scientific Institute     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► The Vatican Palace, as a Scientific Institute     Regarded from the point of view of scientific productivity, the Vatican is the busiest scientific workshop in Rome.… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Outline of Vatican City — …   Wikipedia

  • List of archives — This list of archives contains many archives from around the world. An archive is a establishment that collects and stores historical documents, photos, and other media. Argentina* General Archive of the NationArmenia* National Archives of… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”