Pope Asks Cultural Enhancement Lateran Palace

Holy Father’s Letter to Cardinal Vicar for Diocese of Rome

Cultural Enhancement Lateran Palace
St. John in Lateran square with the Lateran Palace (left) and the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran (right) and the Obelisk of Thutmosis III in front - Wikipedia

Here is a translation of the Letter that the Holy Father Francis sent to the Cardinal Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, Angelo De Donatis, for the cultural enhancement of the Lateran Palace.

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To My Venerable Brother

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis,

Vicar for the Diocese of Rome.

Throughout the centuries, the Church has always worked to promote the fruit of the genius and mastery of artists, often testimonies of experiences of faith and as instruments to give honor to God. This not only out of love for art but also to safeguard the cultural patrimony, given the challenges and dangers that would have deprived them of their function and merit.

Such special responsibility, accompanied by attentive solicitude in considering places, buildings, and works as expressions of the human spirit and an integral part of humanity’s culture, has enabled my Predecessors to pass them on to different generations and to work to preserve them and make them available to visitors and scholars. A task that also today commits the Bishop of Rome in rendering usable the beauty and the survey of Assets and of the artistic patrimony entrusted to his protection.

Animated by these reasons, I also allocate for this purpose the buildings annexed to the Papal Basilica of Saint John Lateran, See of my Episcopal Chair, well aware of the nature attributed to that complex in the course and events of history, together with the provisions of the Lateran Treaty (cf. Art. 13 and Annex II, 1).

I entrust to Your Eminence, my Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, the task to carry out in the complex of that, which for centuries was noted as Patriarchio Lateranense, museum, and cultural activities in the different forms and contents, giving the arrangement that will be necessary, “relying firmly on the noble artistic traditions that the Catholic Church boasts” (Trattato Lateranense, art. 16).

In this endeavor, you will work availing yourself of the collaboration of the Government Organs of Vatican City State and, if necessary, of the operating bodies of the Governorate, considering the disposition in force for the extra-territorial zones in the ambit of their specific juridical condition (cf. Legge sul Governo dello Stato della Citta del Vaticano, No. CCLXXIV, December 6, 2018, Art. 1).

In thanking Your Eminence for your daily and challenging service, I invoke upon you and upon the entire community of the Vicariate of Rome every heavenly blessing.

Rome, at Saint John Lateran, February 20, 2021.


[Original text: Italian]  [Exaudi’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]