A collection of 100 documents preserved in the Vatican Secret Archives and never shown to the public will be revealed in a 2012 exhibition titled “Lux In Arcana.” The codices, parchments, strings, and registers, as well as other documentation dating back some 1,300 years, will be on display in the Capitoline Museums in Rome.
The exhibition was organized for the 4th Centenary of the foundation of the Vatican Secret Archives and it aims to explain and describe the papal archives, according to organizers.
What is likely to stir people’s curiosity is a web of theories and legends about the secrets contained within documents maintained by the Vatican. Many filmmakers and fiction writers have fed off those stories, as did Dan Brown in a series of mystery novels, the most famous one being The Da Vinci Code, in which the narrator argues that the Holy See is hiding the truth about Jesus Christ's bloodline.
The Vatican Secret Archives consist of 85 linear kilometers (about 53 miles) of shelving and contain records of extraordinary historical value, covering a time span that stretches from the 8th to the 20th century.
“It will be the first and possibly the only time in history that they [these documents] leave the confines of the Vatican City walls,” the exhibition website reads.
The writings offer an insight into the lives of Henry VIII, Martin Luther and Galileo, among others, as reported by the Daily Mail. The exhibition also contains a 13th-century letter from Genghis Khan’s grandson, in which he demands homage from the pope, according to the Daily Telegraph. In the letter, dated 1246, the grandson, Grand Khan Guyuk, reportedly demands from Pope Innocent IV that the pontiff travel to central Asia in person to “pay service and homage to us” as an act of “submission.”
Another formal letter in the archive reportedly highlights the papacy’s political role.
“Lux in Arcana” means “into the mysteries of the light” and conveys the exhibition’s main objective, according to the website: “the light [lux] piercing through the Archive’s 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means of direct and concrete contact with the sources from the Archive, that opens the doors to the discovery of often unpublished history recounted in documents.”
“The Vatican Secret Archives represent a cultural world heritage centered in the city of Rome,” the website statement reads.
The exhibition will be enriched by multimedia installations narrating the history of the documents.