Vatican receives ransom demand for letters

2015-03-08 22:01
The Pieta sculpted by Michelangelo.(File)

The Pieta sculpted by Michelangelo.(File) (Shutterstock)

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Vatican City -  The Vatican said on Sunday it had received a ransom demand for the return of two rare documents written by Renaissance master Michelangelo that were stolen from its archives nearly 20 years ago.

The theft of the two documents - one a letter including the signature of the artist who painted the Sistine Chapel, designed part of St Peter's Basilica and sculpted statues such as David and the Pieta - had not been made public before Sunday.

Following a report by the Rome newspaper Il Messaggero on Sunday, spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi said a cardinal in charge of St Peter's Basilica had been contacted recently by a person who offered to get the documents back for what Lombardi called "a certain price".

Il Messaggero said the person, described as a former Vatican employee, had asked for 100 000.

Lombardi said the cardinal "naturally refused because these are stolen documents".

The spokesperson said a nun who worked in the Vatican archives informed officials back in 1997 that the documents had gone missing. He did not say why the Vatican had not disclosed the theft before.

While the newspaper spoke of only one letter signed by Michelangelo, who lived from 1475 to 1564, the spokesperson said two documents had gone missing.

Vatican police were now investigating the case together with their Italian counterparts.


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