Their objective, according to a May 1, 1884, letter of Leo XIII, is to offer a service “principally to the Pope and the Curia, that is, the Holy See.”
Because of their contents, the archives also have incalculable scientific, historic and cultural value for researchers, who come in ever greater numbers from all over the world.
The archives are directed by Cardinal Jorge María Mejía. Father Sergio Pagano is the archives’ prefect, and Father Ugo Paoli the vice prefect (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The archives are available to all those with a certificate of completion of four years of university studies or an equivalent university diploma.
To access the archives, a request must be made to the prefect, accompanied by an instruction from an accredited institute of scientific research or a person qualified in the field of historical research.
Researches who use the archives must submit to the prefecture a copy of their publications (magazine articles, exhibition catalogues, books, etc.) in which documents of the archives have been used or quoted.
The Web page of the Vatican Secret Archives may be visited at www.vatican.va/library_archives/vat_secret_archives/index.htm.