Lux in Arcana: The Vatican Secret Archives reveals itself

For the first time the Vatican Secret Archives are open to the public. Don’t miss this unique opportunity!

An unprecedented cultural and media event: 100 original documents, preserved for 400 years in the Popes’ Archive, will leave the confines of the Vatican City walls for the first time in history, and will be admired at the Capitoline Museums in Rome, from 1st March till September 2012, for the exhibition Lux in arcana – The Vatican Secret Archives reveals itself.

It will be the first and possibly the only time in history that they leave the confines of the Vatican City walls. And they will do so in order to be housed and displayed in the beautiful halls of the Capitoline Museums in Rome. One hundred original and priceless documents selected among the treasures preserved and cherished by the Vatican Secret Archives for centuries.


The exhibition which is conceived for the 4th Centenary of the foundation of the Vatican Secret Archives aims at explaining and describing what the Pope’s 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; records of an extraordinary historical value, covering a time-span that stretches from the 8th to the 20th century.

The name, Lux in arcana, conveys the exhibition’s main objective: the light 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means of direct and concrete contact with the sources from the Archive, that opens the doors to the discovery of often unpublished history recounted in documents.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 exhibition is enriched by multimedia installations, guided by an intriguing but rigorous historical narration, to 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.


The 100 documents, chosen among manuscript codices, parchments, strings and registers, will remain at the Capitoline Museums for nearly seven months, from 1st March till September 2012. An extremely prestigious location, chosen to host this memorable event since it underlines the profound bond existing between the city of Rome and the Papacy since medieval times; the origins of both institutions involved in the event trace their roots back to Sixtus IV’s artistic sensibility; however, 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.

The Vatican Secret Archives represent a cultural world heritage centered in the city of Rome; for this very reason the exhibition has been conceived in cooperation with Roma Capitale, Assessorato alle Politiche Culturali e Centro Storico – Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Roma and Zètema Progetto Cultura.

This memorable exhibition is already creating great expectations, fuelled by the mysterious fascination that the Vatican Secret Archives generate in the collective imagination.

All of the above will make Lux in arcana – The Vatican Secret Archives reveals itself an event of unprecedented scientific and media importance.