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Wednesday, 29 September 2021 14:38

Papal Bull of 1304 Restored to the Carmelites

A missing papal bull dated 1304 from Pope Benedict XI to the Carmine church in Messina, Sicily (now called the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) was found for sale for 100 euro in the catalogue of an auction house. The Carabinieri were notified and the special division dealing in stolen or missing patrimony of the country went into action.

On Sunday, September 26, 2021, the officials of the Carabinieri restored the document to representatives of the Order. The ceremony took place at the Carmelite Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Trapani, Sicily.

Present to receive the document was Fr. Mario Alfarano, O. Carm., General Archivist of the Order, and Fr. Roberto Toni, O. Carm., prior provincial of the Italian Province. Also in attendance were the Carmelites serving at the sanctuary and members of the Lay Carmelites from the area. Representing the Carabinieri were top officials from the Palermo section of the Nucleo per la Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale (Division for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage), under the command of Major Gianluigi Marmora.

The document is the result of a request to transfer the Carmelites from their location at the time next to the Cathedral of Messina to the Church of San Cataldo. According to Fr. Alfarano, the canons complained that noise from the Carmelites priory interrupted the religious services of the canons of the cathedral. This story of the transfer is confirmed in a book by Placido Samperi (1590-1654) entitled "Iconologia della gloriosa Vergine Madre di Dio Maria protettrice di Messina", confirming the importance of the document.

At the request of the Carabinieri and the Soprintendenza of Sicily, the General Archives presented documentation which proved the Order’s ownership of the document. That study will be published in the Analecta Ordinis Carmelitarum.

It is believed that the document was lost during the 1908 earthquake which destroyed the church and priory of the Carmelites. It would have been kept in the archive of the house. Consequently, the owner of the auction house was not charged.

There is some damage to the document so it will be sent for restoration. Copies of the text exist in other places so words that have been damages due to deterioration of the parchment can be restored as well.

Bolla Papale Carabinieri 450

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