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Vatican Archives Now Open to Researchers

With the reopening of the Vatican archives, researchers from around the world will be given access to stacks of centuries-old documents.

After being closed for almost three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vatican Archives will reopen its doors to researchers from across the world.

The archive was forced to close on the second week of March, just days after the March 2 unsealing of the documents on the papacy of Pius XII—the pope whose actions during the World War II remain controversial until today. These documents have been highly anticipated by Jewish groups, historians, and researchers for their first-hand accounts on what transpired in the years 1939 to 1958. (Read: Vatican releases book with Pope’s homilies and other prayers for spiritual reflection)

An attendant opens the section of the Vatican archive dedicated to Pope Pius XII. (Alberto Pizzoli / AFP via Getty Images/ WAMC)

The Vatican archives announced on their website that they will reopen to researchers until June 26, and will close again for the summer break until August 30. Its doors will be welcoming visitors in the morning with only 15 researchers allowed inside as a safety measure.

Previous reservations to work in the archives before the forced closing are considered canceled, the notice said. Scholars are advised to submit new requests for the four-week opening. (Read: A Peek Inside the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican)

Vatican Museums and Vatican Library

Photo from Wallpaper Access

Aside from the archives, the Vatican announced that the Vatican Museums and the Vatican Library will reopen as well. (Read: Vatican Museums now set to reopen on June 1)

The closure of the museums—one of the Vatican’s top tourist destinations—dealt a major financial blow to the city. It comes as more than six million people visit the museums every year, giving an income of more than $100 million dollars to the Vatican.

Access to the museums, archives, and library will be by reservation only, face masks are required, and social distancing must be maintained. (Read: ‘Strict social distancing’ shall be observed during Mass – CBCP)

One of the reading rooms inside the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. (Photo from Littera Carolina)

With the reopening of the Vatican Museums, the public will have a first look at the restored Hall of Constantine—the fourth and largest of the museums’ Raphael Rooms. The restoration has also discovered evidence that the allegorical figures of Justice and Friendship were painted in oil and were most likely the last work of Raphael before his death in 1520.

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