Saint Peter’s Basilica

Vatican Detains Former Employee Who Intended to Sell An Original Parchment of Saint Peter’s Basilica

After receiving a complaint from the basilica about the disappearance of the manuscript, the authorities continued the purchase negotiations until the money changed hands, at which point they proceeded with the arrest.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 06.06.2024).- The Vatican Police detained a former employee of the Fabric of Saint Peter accused of extortion, after attempting to sell, to the Vatican itself, a valuable  17th century manuscript, with designs of Gian Lorenzo Bernini for the canopy of the main altar of Saint Peter’s Basilica.

According to the Vatican’s prosecutors, the 18-page manuscript, which describes the first specifications for the canopy’s gold plating, had disappeared from the Basilica’s archives. The suspect, who had worked for the entity responsible for the Basilica’s administration, was arrested on May 27 when he attempted to sell the document to the Fabric of Saint Peter itself.

The prosecutors’ press release reveals that the Vatican Police organized a trap to catch the individual. After receiving the Basilica’s complaint regarding the manuscript’s disappearance, the authorities continued the purchase negotiations until the money changed hands, moment when they proceeded with the detention.

Since his arrest, the former employee is in the custody of the Vatican. The case, reported initially by the Italian newspaper Domani, aroused doubts about the origin of the manuscript and its presence in the Basilica’s archives. An art historian, friend of the accused, said there is no evidence of the existence of the manuscript in the Basilica’s catalogue since at least 1900.

The canopy of Saint Peter’s Basilica, a masterwork designed by Bernini between 1620 and 1630, is an imposing ten story canopy that covers the main altar and Saint Peter’s tomb. This monumental structure, which combines marble, bronze, wood, gold and iron, is adorned with golden cherubs  and laurel branches that twist around its nine-ton columns.

Currently, the canopy is covered by scaffolding for a cleaning and restoration process that will last for several months, before the start of the Jubilee, which begins on December 24, 2024.

Thank you for reading our content. If you would like to receive ZENIT’s daily e-mail news, you can subscribe for free through this link.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation