Ballinrobe and the Vatican Secret Archives

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By Averil Staunton

An interesting exhibition

While not all the documents on display in this exhibition are directly connected with us here in Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo some did affect our history and heritage.  

While few will get the opportunity to visit this exhibition, at least reading about it prompts the memory of what it must have been like for our forefathers to experience the upheavals and turmoils the divorce of Henry Vlll caused and the subsequent division and attempted crushing of the RC Church in Ireland.

Archive foundation

Founded by Pope Paul V in 1612, the Archives contain all deeds and documents pertaining to the government of the Church.

The Prefect for the Vatican’s Secret Archives is Bishop Sergio Pagano and in an interview recently with Vatican Radio’s Eliana Astorri explained how “this exhibition was timed to coincide with the fourth centenary founding of the Secret Archives in the Vatican.  It is intended to celebrate the cultural research carried out down the centuries both at the service of the Church and of the world.”  It also aims to demystify the Church’s records.  

Secret is not really a secret

The “secret” in Secret Archives does not mean covert or clandestine, but is an older term for “personal.”

Some of the documents on display include: 

  1. A letter from an English nobleman to Pope Clement VII in 1530 that demands that King Henry VIII be allowed to divorce Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn.  
  2. Called Henry VIII's "Secret Matter" a formal document with its many seals is displayed - see photo.
  3. Documents from the trials of the Knights Templars, some of whom were connected with Ballinrobe and occupied St. John’s House.
  4. The excommunication decree of reform leader Martin Luther.

The Video clip

The video clip which was filmed inside the 'Vatican Secret Archives' shows rooms and bunkers in the Archive of the Popes, together with some of the 100 original documents that will leave the Vatican City for the first time in history.

Twelve centuries of history, 400 years of life, and 85 kilometers of shelving: the world's most famous Archive reveals itself in the extraordinary halls of Rome's Capitoline Museums until September 2012.  It includes original documents of conclaves, heresies, popes and emperors, crusades, excommunications, ciphered letters together with manuscripts, codices, ancient parchments.



Photo:The document referring to Henry VIII's divorce with numerous attached seals.

The document referring to Henry VIII's divorce with numerous attached seals.

Photo: donor

This page was added by Averil Staunton on 16/03/2012.