Fragment of the 1493 Inter Caetera papal bull awarding ownership of the lands set upon by Christopher Columbus to Spain.

Vatican Releases Tantalizing Glimpse into Papal Documents About Columbus


As enigmatic as the Da Vinci Code, the website showcasing fragments of documents from the upcoming exhibit of the Vatican Secret Archives presents the explorer with a sort of puzzle. As the cursor moves over each image, the ones that are available for viewing light up.

Clicking on one of the images will reveal a description of the papal Inter Caetera bull, which granted Spain ownership of the lands “discovered” by Christopher Columbus. The description and image went online on October 12 to coincide with the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the so-called New World.

The exhibition, to run from February through September 2012, will be in the Capitoline Museum in Rome and consist of 100 “original and priceless documents,” according to a Vatican press release. It will aim to explain and describe the papal archives by sharing some of them with the public. The archives span 13 centuries, from the eighth through the 20th, and take up more than 50 miles of shelving in a two-story vault underneath the Vatican Museums.

On August 3, 1492, Columbus and his fleet—the famed Niña, Pinta and the Santa Maria—left Palos, Spain, and sailed west for 69 days, arriving in the New World on September 8. The rest, as they say, is history.

In 1493 the papal document was issued, referring directly to Columbus’s mission and calling him a “man assuredly worthy and of the highest recommendations and fitted for so great an undertaking, ” commissioned as he was by the Spanish monarchs to “make quest for these remote and unknown mainlands and islands, where hitherto no one had sailed, not without the greatest hardships and dangers,” the site says.

“It is part of the history of the colonization of the Americas that gave rise to a series of problems whose consequences would be felt over time,” said Luca Carboni, secretary general of the archives, to The New York Times.


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curtj's picture
Submitted by curtj on
You could print or not. I notice that ICT has to toe the corporate line and not print anything to offend white owned corporations. look up the policies of colonialism. For centuries the European and American governments have invaded weaker countries to enable their freebooters and corporations to steal their natural resources and lands for colonization. Others they manipulate and mount coups to set up and prop up despot puppet regimes who brutally subjugate their populations through intimidation, terror, rape, kidnappings and murder. The neo conservative owned munitions, weapons, military supply and hardware corporations rake in the profits off their death dealing wares of murder. When they are successful in propping up despot puppet dictatorships, the neo conservative owned oil, energy and mining conglomerates rake in the profits off stolen resources and lands. America saw the murder and genocide of the Indigenous and the enslavement to concentration camps on lands deemed worthless by the whites. The vatican is built off the backs of millions of Indigenous People who were slaughtered in the name of jesus christ, in exchange for part of the loot and lands. Why would Indigenous people revere a religion which is used to help subjugate them?