Jun 13, 2018, 5:11 PM ET

US Ambassador returns letter written by Christopher Columbus to the Vatican


The U.S. ambassador to the Vatican returned a letter written by Christopher Columbus after it was stolen and replaced with a forgery, officials said.

“The Columbus Letter, as it is known, is an account of the explorer’s discovery of America written in 1493 to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain,” according to a press release from the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.

The letter was translated into Latin and several copies were distributed throughout Europe, the embassy said. The letter was stolen from the Vatican Library and sold in 2004, according to the Department of Justice.

PHOTO: This undated photo shows the moment of the consignment.Vatican Apostolic Library
This undated photo shows the moment of the consignment.

After the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Homeland Security Investigations discovered the copy held in the Vatican was a fake, they contacted a man named Robert Parsons who purchased a copy of the original letter in 2004, the release said.

Parsons’ widow, Mary Parsons, decided to return the letter to the Vatican and relinquish her rights to it, according to a press release.

U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Callista L Gingrich, delivered the letter Vatican’s Archivist and Librarian, Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès and the Library’s Prefect, Bishop Cesare Pasini.

“The Columbus Letter, written in 1493, is a priceless piece of cultural history. I am honored to return this remarkable letter to the Vatican Library – its rightful owner," Ambassador Gingrich said.

News - US Ambassador returns letter written by Christopher Columbus to the Vatican

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  • Joshua

    We cannot change the past, only learn from history’s painful lessons...

    Illegal immigration didn’t work out to well for the Native Americans, why do liberals think it will be better this time?

  • vivacian

    I assume that why it is going to the Vatican is that during that period, Monarchs in Spain were Catholic, and when the King and Queen supplied Columbus with the ships and money to make the voyage, they had the blessing of the Pope, so that may be the reason the Vatican will have the original.
    Columbus discovered the West Indies, not the mainland, so it would be fitting that Vatican have it, since the letter was sent to the King and Queen of Spain.
    Nice of that lady to give that up.

  • whitepine

    Why did it not go to the Smithsonian? Why isn't part of our historical documents and not the Vatican?