Greece Welcomes Parthenon Fragments Returned by the Vatican
Greece welcomed three sculpture fragments from the Parthenon, which were returned following an intervention by Pope Francis by the Vatican Museums, during a reunification ceremony in Athens.
The fragments, which include the head of a horse pulling the goddess Athena’s chariot from the western front of the temple and two reliefs with the head of a boy and of a bearded male head, were donated by Pope Francis to the Archbishop of the Orthodox Church of Athens, Ieronymos II.
“The uniquely important and significant spiritual and friendly gesture of His Holiness Pope Francis to His Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos II, demonstrates in the best possible way how culture can make a decisive contribution to dialogue, peace, the reconciliation of communities and the brotherhood of peoples,” said Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni during the donation ceremony attended by Archbishop Ieronymos II, Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, a delegation of Vatican envoys, and Barbara Jatta, the director of the Vatican Museums.
Addressing the reunification ceremony, Archbishop Ieronymos II said Pope Francis’ gesture was of “historical importance” that had a positive impact on all levels. “We hope that it will set an example for others,” he said, adding that the move also demonstrates that “solutions to our problems are possible when there is goodwill and a sincere desire to resolve them”.
Pope Francis receives Greek culture minister at the Vatican
Pope Francis received Mendoni at the Vatican on Monday. Greece’s culture minister conveyed Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ gratitude through a letter. Mendoni underlined the importance for Greece of the Pope’s gesture particularly in view of the country’s ongoing efforts to see the Parthenon Sculptures reunited once and for all in Greece.
During the meeting, Pope Frances expressed a special respect for Greece, as the Cradle of Western Civilization.
The three ancient Greek art works, part of the Vatican Museums collection for two centuries, will go on display at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.
The news is expected to put additional pressure on the British Museum in the long-standing dispute with Greece for the return of the 2,500 year-old Parthenon Marbles which are one of its central exhibits.