Two long-awaited documents that will be featured in the exhibition Lux in arcana - The Vatican Secret Archives reveals itself, at the Musei Capitolini
from February 2012, have been revealed in the magazine Il Venerdì di Repubblica. Two documents from 1308-1311 that will fascinate a large public: the Chinon parchment with the sacramental absolution of the Temple's dignitaries and the Trial against the Order of the Templars contained in a roll 60 linear meters long.
The sacramental absolution of the Temple's dignitaries came in August 1308. The Templars had already been tried by the French inquisitors and had admitted their crimes under torture. Subsequently, Clement V sent to Chinon castle three cardinals charged with the task of questioning the grand master and the other dignitaries: Hugues de Perraud, visitor of the Order, Raymbaud de Caron and Geoffrey de Charny, preceptors of Outremer and Normandy, Geoffrey de Gonneville, preceptor of Poitou and Aquitaine. Once they had confessed their crimes, the five men were granted a sacramental absolution and were reinstated in the Christian communion. From that moment onwards, only the pope could question them, binding them to their testimony; as a matter of fact, recanting would have made them relapsi, that is those who have repeated the crimes they had committed before being discharged. And the punishment for the relapsi was death by burning at the stake.
Templars before the bar: the trial against the Order on French soil. After having annulled all former inquiries conducted by the French Inquisition against the Templars (who had been arrested by command of the French king Philip the Fair), pope Clement V took the trial against the Order into his own hands. Since the day of the French Templars' arrest (Friday 13th, 1307), Clement V had tried every possible means to contain the king's aims: by pre-emptively having the Temple Knights arrested, wherever they might be, thus taking them from secular authorities (November 22nd, 1307); by annulling all proceedings carried out by the French Inquisition and the king's men and eventually by discharging seventy-two Knights and the five high dignitaries. But even by acting judiciously, would he have been able to avoid the Order's conviction, a sentence that the French king wanted at all costs? From the Temple's suppression, Philip would have gathered nothing but advantages: the large debt he had contracted with the Templars, bankers to the French Crown, would have been wiped out; moreover, he would have eventually succeeded in craftily confiscating the wealth from the rich and powerful Order. The trial formally started on November 22nd, 1309 and the Templars' defense became increasingly stronger; however, at that point, the king intervened by masterfully boycotting the proceedings. On may 11th, 1310, archbishop Philippe de Marigny, one of Philip's most trusted men and a member of his council, summoned the provincial council of his diocese, Paris, thus condemning fifty-four Templars who were in his jurisdiction as relapsi, since the diocesan inquiry had confirmed the confessions they had made following the arrest in 1307, even though they had recanted in front of the papal commissioner. After the fifty-four were burnt, the other Templars, terrified, threw in the sponge: between November and June 1311, nearly one-third out of the six-hundred Knights spontaneously appeared before the judges, only to confirm what they had stated in previous testimonies. Recanting meant dying. Those two-hundred excruciating testimonies, given while fearing both contradiction and the frustrating desire to defend the Order, are contained in the parchment roll's nearly 60 linear meters.
The exhibition, conceived for the 4th Centenary of the foundation of the Vatican Secret Archives - in cooperation with Roma Capitale, Assessorato alle Politiche Culturali e Centro Storico - Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Roma and Zètema Progetto Cultura - aims at explaining and describing what the Popes archives are and how they work and, at the same time, at making the invisible visible, thus allowing access to some of the marvels enshrined in the Vatican Secret Archives 85 linear kilometers of shelving.
The name, Lux in arcana, conveys the exhibitions main objective: the light piercing through the Archives innermost depths enlightens a reality which precludes a superficial knowledge and is only enjoyable by means of direct and concrete contact with the sources from the Archive, that opens the doors to the discovery of often unpublished history recounted in documents.
Multimedia installations, guided by an intriguing but rigorous historical narration, will allow the visitor to experience some famous events from the past and to re-live the documents, that will come to life with tales of the context and the people involved. Moreover, it will be possible to follow the exhibition's side-events and discover curiosities and insights on the most renowned social networks and on www.luxinarcana.org, which starting from July has been richer in content by the day: just a few weeks after its publication, it has already attracted thousands of visitors from more than one hundred countries all over the world.
The 100 documents, chosen among manuscript codices, parchments, strings and registers, will remain at the Capitoline Museums for nearly seven months, from February till September 2012: an unprecedented event that is already creating enormous expectations, fueled by the mysterious fascination that the Vatican Secret Archives generates in the collective imagination.
The documents which have already been revealed are online at the exhibition's website, together with news and insights regarding characters and curiosities about the Vatican Secret Archives.
The Vatican Secret Archives represents a cultural heritage for humanity which has its center in the city of Rome. The location chosen to host such memorable event, the Musei Capitolini, underlines the profound link between the city of Rome and the Papacy since medieval times. Sixtus IVs artistic sensibility is bound to the origins of both institutions involved in the event. But at the same time, the history enshrined in the Vatican Secret Archives is intertwined with the history of Italy, Europe and the World as a whole.