Lux in Arcana

If you, like me, have a bit of a thing about paper then you may also share my wonderment at old documents: scrolls and letters, books, maps, scraps, notes, lists and journals, the records of History and all our histories. I’m feeling less than poetic this evening so I can’t muster a eulogy about the website Lux in Arcana, which accompanies an exhibition from the Vatican’s secret archives. It is fascinating and for once the English language version is accessible and lyrical. I found the link – again! – through the Book Arts Listserve, and I could get absolutely lost in there. I just wish that our finances would permit a trip to the Capitoline Museum in Rome for a look-see before it closes in September. * Sigh *

60 linear metres of scroll in which over 200 Knights Templar confessed their sins as the French King wound up the order in 1311

The Dictatus Papae of Gregory VII: an assertion of his papal prerogatives, 27 of which were written down in 1075.

A letter from supporters of Henry VIII to Pope Clement VII, urging him to agree to the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. Well, we all know where that ended up don’t we? “Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived“… like most of the signatories too, as it happened.

A letter from Empress Helena-Wang (Ming Dynasty) to Pope Innocent X in 1650, written on silk, notifying the Pope of her conversion to Christianity, and that of her son. The letter was wrapped up and stored inside an inscribed bamboo stick and carried to Italy by the priest who converted her – taking 5 years to arrive!

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