Tuesday, July 16 2024

Three Parthenon Marble Fragments Are Returning Home to Greece From the Vatican Museum

Last December Pope Francis ordered the Vatican Museum to rush the return back to Greece of three marble fragments– a horse, a bearded man and a boy– that once adorned the Parthenon. The transportation agreement is now in place and the fragments will arrive in Greece on March 24th.
The Vatican, which housed the pieces in its museum for almost 200 years, is “donating” the items to the Greek Orthodox Church in Athens, calling the move “a concrete sign of [Francis’s] sincere desire to follow in the ecumenical path of truth.”
“This initiative does help heal wounds of the past and it demonstrates that when Christian leaders work together, they can resolve issues in a practical way,” the church’s envoy Father Emmanuel Papamikroulis told the AP. “It has taken place at a difficult time for our country, and it will hopefully provide some sense of pride and happiness. I hope this initiative is followed by others.”
By “others,” the official is, no doubt, hinting to the British Museum, which has been at loggerheads with the Greek government for years about returning the vast majority of the Parthenon Marbles which have been in London since 1816.
The 2,500-year-old sculptures adorned the exterior of the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis. The temple was extensively looted in the 19th century– most notoriously by the 7th Earl of Elgin, who sold his plunder to the British Museum in 1816.
According to the Vatican Museum website, these three fragments of Pentelic marble, which came into the Vatican in the 19th century, are part of the decorative sculpture of the Parthenon, the temple built on the Acropolis at Athens by Pericles (447-432 B.C.). The figurative decoration of the temple is the creative genius of the Athenian sculptor, Phidias.
Meanwhile, the British Museum has refused for decades - and apparently continues to do so through their PM Sunak -  the appeals from Greece to return the Parthenon marbles to their homeland, Greece.