Today: Thursday, 23 May 2024 year

US returns stolen Christopher Columbus letter to Vatican

US returns stolen Christopher Columbus letter to Vatican

The United States has returned to the Vatican Library a letter written by Christopher Columbus. The document dated 1493 telling about New World’s discovery, the letter was stolen from Vatican library and replaced with a fake, CNN reports.

Christopher Columbus letter is one of the most interesting documents of XV century, the text was translated into Latin, and several copies were distributed throughout Europe. Vatican Library was the third copy’s owner since 1921, the US embassy to the Vatican said. But the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) discovered the copy held in the Vatican was a forgery.

On Thursday, Columbus letter was presented to the Vatican by Callista Gingrich, Ambassador to the Holy See. She handed it over to chief Vatican archivist, Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, and the prefect of the state library, Bishop Cesare Pasini.

Columbus letter was returned to the Vatican

The historical document called Columbus Letter was written to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, who funded Christopher’s exploration. The letter is an account of the explorer’s discovery of America, and he informs the Spanish monarchs of their new claims in Cuba and Santo Domingo.

“I discovered many islands inhabited by numerous people,”

the letter dated 1493 reads.

“I took possession of all of them for our most fortunate King by making public proclamation and unfurling his standard, no one making any resistance.

“All these island are very beautiful, and of quite different shapes; easy to be traversed, and full of the greatest variety of trees reaching to the stars.”

After the incident with the replacing Columbus letter, Vatican library has updated security measures. According to Timothy Janz, director of printed books department at the Vatican Library, he is confident such a theft could not happen today.

The letter marked the third recovered copy to be returned to European libraries by the US Department of Homeland Security.
Last week was a remarkable one for all Columbus historians, one copy was returned to the Library of Catalonia in Spain, and another copy went to the Riccardiana Library in Italy in 2016. This week, Vatican got its own – the third – copy of Christopher Columbus letter to King and Queen.