Mysteries & Dark Conspiracies of The Vatican’s Forbidden Archives

Secretive places closed off to the world invite rumour, intrigue, and mystery. These are places where anything could be lurking within their halls, and they attract conspiracy theories like moths to a flame, fluttering about bashing up against them but never gaining access and never finding the answers they seek. One such place that has long been a wellspring of strange theories and speculation lies squarely within Vatican City, and besides being one of the most forbidden places in the world is also one of the most mysterious.

Comprised of approximately 53 miles of labyrinthine aisles of shelving harbouring rows upon countless rows of texts, books, and scrolls ranging from the more modern to fragile, time-worn manuscripts reaching back 12 centuries into the shadows of time, the Vatican Archives, officially known as the Archivum Secretum Apostolicum Vaticanum, was originally constructed in 1612 by Pope Paul V and is a truly a huge treasure trove of information collected by the Church over hundreds of years. This vast repository of knowledge holds state papers, Holy See paperwork, papal correspondence and personal letters, and countless historical records, documents and texts accumulated by the Vatican from every corner of the known world that date back to the 8th century, all housed within a massive, carefully climate-controlled structure adjacent to the Vatican Library that is designed more like a fortress than a library, replete with impenetrable underground bunkers and with only one known heavily guarded entrance.

The list of known contents of the archives is far too long to completely cover here, but includes a wealth of historical documents including handwritten letters to the Pope from such important figures such as Mary Queen of Scotts asking for a pardon before her execution, King Henry VIII, Michelangelo asking to be paid for his work on the Sistine Chapel, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Grand Empress Dowager Helena Wang of China in the 17th century, one written on birch bark by the Canadian Ojibwe tribe in 1887, and many, many others. Here there are official edicts by Popes through the centuries, including excommunications such as that of German religious heretic and founder of Lutheranism Martin Luther, official papal decrees such as the one made in 1493 by Pope Alexander VI that split the entire known world among Spain and Portugal, as well as personal communications from popes throughout history. Here one can also find such gems as a nearly 200-foot long scroll containing details of the trials of the Knights Templar for heresy and blasphemy dating to 1307, as well as a handwritten transcript detailing the trial of astronomer Galileo Galilei in the 17th century, as well as the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which states that Mary was conceived without sin, scrawled out on a piece of parchment dating to 1854.

The Vatican Archives are often referred to as the Vatican Secret Archives, mostly due to a mistranslation of the Latin words secretum, which is actually closer in meaning to “personal” or “private” rather than “secret” or “confidential” as many think, but it could also have to do with the archive’s history of strict inaccessibility and reclusiveness from the outside world. They had been for centuries practically completely forbidden and closed off from nearly everyone, even Church officials, with not even Cardinals allowed access to their treasure trove of information, and it was not until 1881 that Pope Leo XIII allowed limited access to outsiders, yet this does little to dispel the secrecy surrounding the archives and it is still no small feat to enter this inner sanctum of all of the Vatican’s knowledge.

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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