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Opening the holy of holies: early twentieth-century explorations of the Sancta Sanctorum (Rome).

Although the Sancta Sanctorum preserved some of the most venerated relics in Rome and a miraculous image of Christ, until the early twentieth century strict rules limiting access to the space made a formal examination of these objects nearly impossible. The series of investigations and resulting publications of the Sancta Sanctorum and its treasure of reliquaries, relics, and icon that took place between 1903 and 1908 therefore demonstrate an important turning point in the Church's attitude toward the medieval chapel's sanctified space. The papal permission given to scholars such as Florian Jubaru, Hartmann Grisar, Philippe Lauer, and Josef Wilpert allowed, for the first time, a scientific examination and cataloging of the chapel's objects. The permission, however, also instigated an environment of intense academic competition, as noted especially in the publications of Grisar and Lauer. This article discusses the explorations of the Sancta Sanctorum's holy objects in the context of the highly charged political environment of early twentieth-century Rome. The article suggests that concerns over artistic patrimony, the financial stability of the Vatican, the relationship between the papacy and the Italian state, and shifting trends in scholarship played roles in the decision to open the "Holy of Holies" and reveal the contents of the treasure of the Sancta Sanctorum.


IN the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Vatican positioned itself between promoting scholarly inquiry and controlling the vast material, literary and artistic resources of ecclesiastical history. Studies in archaeology and the early Christian and medieval history of the Church were facilitated by popes like Leo XIII who contributed to a critical investigation of the past through the opening of the Vatican Archives in 1881. Scholars affiliated with new centers for historical research in Rome not only utilized the vast wealth of documentation found in the archives but also explored the material sources for the Christian past found throughout the city. The papacy additionally encouraged archaeological research, such as the catacomb exploration of Giovanni de Rossi (1822-1894), as a means of documenting the origins of early Christianity. De Rossi's creation of the Bollettino di archeologia cristiana in 1863 and his foundation of a Societa dei Cultori di Archeologia Cristiana in 1875 helped to disseminate new finds while at the same time increasing the profile of Christian archaeology outside of Rome. (1) De Rossi's pupils, Enrico Stevenson, Orazio Marucchi, and Josef Wilpert, continued the tradition of catacomb exploration with finds that reinforced the priority of Rome and the originality of early Christian art forms, points that were sometimes questioned, especially in the scholarly community in Germany. (2)

At the turn of the century, the availability of research resources and the development of an institutional framework that supported academic inquiry were coupled with new methodological approaches that sometimes conflicted with the established Church hierarchy. Modernism, representing a more skeptical and critical examination of Catholic doctrine, underscored discrepancies between Christian theology and advances in science and philosophy. (3) Encyclicals like Leo XIII's Providentissimus Deus (1893) defended the infallibility of scripture at a time when "the thirst for novelty and unrestrained freedom of thought make the danger of error most real and proximate"; the Church was most concerned that contradictions based on the "peremptory pronouncements of a certain newly invented 'free science'" might cause the "more ignorant masses" to lose confidence in the Bible and question the true meaning of scripture. (4) The field of history was similarly a potential threat:
   It is a lamentable fact that there are many who with great labour
   carry out and publish investigations on the monuments of antiquity,
   the manners and institutions of nations and other illustrative
   subjects, and whose chief purpose in all this is too often to find
   mistakes in the sacred writings and so to shake and weaken their
   authority. Some of these writers display not only extreme
   hostility, but the greatest unfairness; in their eyes a profane
   book or ancient document is accepted without hesitation, whilst the
   Scripture, if they only find in it a suspicion of error, is set
   down with the slightest possible discussion as quite untrustworthy.

The rationalists could disseminate their "deadly poison" in various ways: "by means of books, pamphlets, and newspapers; they spread it by addresses and by conversation; and they are in possession of numerous schools, taken by violence from the Church." (6) The Pontifical Biblical Commission, established in 1902, further promoted the proper interpretation of scripture by observing the guidelines developed in Providentissimus Deus. (7) Nonetheless, an unresolved, key question remained: how could truly independent scholarship be reconciled with a compliance with ecclesiastical authority? (8)

As the modernists created an intellectual front that threatened to damage the credibility of Catholic doctrine, the formation of the Italian state endangered the overall political and temporal authority of the papacy. After Italian troops entered the city on September 20, 1870, Rome and its provinces were annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. Out of protest, the pope withdrew to the Vatican, remaining there as a type of prisoner in his own home from 1870 until 1929. The Law of Guarantees, issued by the Italian parliament in 1871, attempted to establish the status of the pope by declaring that he possessed diplomatic honors and privileges similar to those of the king of Italy. (9) The law further allowed the pope to maintain a private army, the Swiss and noble guards, and gave the pope control over the Vatican, Lateran, and Castel Gandolfo. Refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the Italian rule, Pope Pins IX rejected the Law of Guarantees through the encyclical Ubi nos arcano (1871). From 1870 until 1929, the rights of the papacy, therefore, remained uncertain. During this period, the true ownership of the cultural patrimony associated with churches, religious houses, and the pontifical collections was also a point of contention between Italy and the papacy. In 1879, for example, the Italian parliament questioned the sale of majolica from Castel Gandolfo, for it was believed that the Vatican had stolen national property. (10) While unresolved, cases such as this one reinforced the ambiguous ownership of artistic patrimony and demonstrated the power of the Italian courts to potentially intervene in the decision process.

Continuing tension between the papacy and the Italian government certainly also played a strong role in the investigation of the Christian past, an investigation that was complemented by the holdings of the Vatican Archives and new archaeological discoveries. The early saints and martyrs helped to reinforce the venerable roots of Catholicism in Rome while the examination of periods like the Middle Ages explored the zenith of papal authority. In this context, it is not surprising that the Sancta Sanctorum, a medieval chapel that was once part of the papal palace at the Lateran, would generate great interest at the turn of the twentieth century. Containing precious relics within a well-secured altar as well as a miraculous icon of Christ attributed to the hand of St. Luke and an angel, the treasury of the Sancta Sanctorum included some of the most venerable relics in Christendom (fig. 1). Beginning in 1903 with the opening of the altar and the examination of its holy objects, the Sancta Sanctorum was the center of intense scholarly activity that resulted, by 1908, in a total of twenty books or articles that dealt in some way with the chapel or its contents. The present article will use the exploration of the Sancta Sanctorum to help understand the scholarly, political, and religious environment in Rome in the early 1900s--an environment that was characterized by a division of critical methods tempered by fears of modernism, by financial pressure on the papacy related to its captivity in the Vatican, by intense academic competition between the French and German scholarly communities, and by a changing attitude towards the role of relics.

Known as the Holy of Holies, the current chapel of the Sancta Sanctorum dates to the time of Nicholas III (1277-1280), who replaced an earlier structure on the site that had been damaged by an earthquake. In the Middle Ages, the Sancta Sanctorum served as the pope's private chapel and often functioned as a staging point for the stational liturgy. (11) The unique association between the Sancta Sanctorum and the medieval papal palace in the Lateran prevented access to the chapel's relics, for strict rules regulated the Sancta Sanctorum's liturgical function and limited those who could enter the space. Although the residence of the popes shifted across town to the Vatican in the fifteenth century, the venerable and exclusive nature of the Sancta Sanctorum was nonetheless maintained. (12) The sacredness of the relics and of the icon of Christ was certainly enhanced by the fact that the objects were so rarely viewed by the general Roman populace, who would have only seen them during special liturgical celebrations or on extraordinary occasions when they might be removed from the chapel. Otherwise, the pious would have an obscured view of the covered icon and altar through the grillwork at the top of the Scala Santa. (13)


Because of this limited access, there are very few detailed descriptions of the Sancta Sanctorum's relics or icon before the early twentieth century. (14) The relics themselves were contained in reliquaries that were housed within a ninth-century cypress chest sponsored by Pope Leo III; this chest was inserted within the cavity of the altar and was secured by bronze doors and metal grating (figs. 2 and 3). A twelfth-century account of the Lateran Basilica by John the Deacon included a description of the Sancta Sanctorum relics, which became an important resource for subsequent writers. (15) In the fourteenth century, Urban V (1362-1370) opened the chapel's altar in order to extract the heads of Peter and Paul and transfer them to the high altar of the Lateran basilica. (16) Leo X (1513-1521) viewed the other precious objects in the altar in 1513 and created an index of the chapel's relics at that time; a sixteenth-century text by Onofrio Panvinio may reproduce portions of that inventory. (17) With the exception of possible looting during the Sack of Rome in 1527, the altar remained closed until 1903. (18) Access to the icon of Christ also decreased drastically in the sixteenth century, especially after 1565 when Pius V (1566-1572) cancelled the yearly procession that celebrated the Virgin's Assumption, one of the few occasions when the image left the Sancta Sanctorum. With the exception of an eighteenth-century text by Giovanni Marangoni that describes in detail the icon and its history, most accounts of the Christ image are brief and tend to focus on its earlier, processional use. (19) The series of investigations and resulting publications of the Sancta Sanctorum and its altar, relics, and icon that took place between 1903 and 1908 therefore demonstrate an important turning point in the Church's attitude toward the sacred objects and sanctified space of the medieval chapel. (20)


The French Jesuit Florian Jubaru, a professor in the Collegio Leoniano in Anagni, was the first scholar to receive permission to open the altar of the Sancta Sanctorum; his study of Saint Agnes necessitated an examination of the martyr's head, which was contained in a reliquary found within the chapel. (21) Jubaru intended to use a direct study of Agnes's remains to reconcile conflicting Greek and Roman sources to determine if the saint was martyred as ah adult or as a child; in his publications, he underscores the critical and archaeological nature of his historical research as well as the importance of authenticity. (22) He furthermore wanted to investigate the common belief that many objects had been removed from the altar during the sack of 1527. (23) Jubaru was assisted by Cardinal Mariano Rampolla, who personally presented the Jesuit's request to Leo XIII in 1902. (24) Jubaru's connections and his teaching position in an institute founded by Leo XIII certainly must have influenced the consent. (25)


With the support of Cardinal Francesco di Paola Satolli, the archpriest of the Lateran, Jubaru met with the Passionisti, who were the caretakers of the chapel. Unfortunately, they were unable to open the altar because the keys had been lost. (26) A year later, in April 1903, Jubaru renewed his attempt and, with Cardinal Satolli's intervention and the hiring of a blacksmith, successfully opened the altar. (27) Jubaru found the relics undisturbed and was able to examine the head of Saint Agnes; he was accompanied by Cardinal Satolli, Dr. Giuseppe Lapponi, who was the pope's physician, and Giuseppe Bonavenia, who was a member of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology. (28) On April 20, 1903, Satolli wrote to Rampolla to alert him of the great quantity of reliquaries and relics that had been found and to request permission from the pope for a more accurate examination of the objects. (29) Two days later, Satolli received a response on behalf of Leo XIII that once Jubaru's authorized work was completed, the altar should be placed "in pristinum." (30)

Jubaru, primarily concerned with the remains of Saint Agnes, did not create an inventory of the other objects in the altar but his "rediscovery" of the relics led to future investigations. The passing of Pope Leo XIII in July 1903 and the election of Pope Pius X temporarily delayed work in the Sancta Sanctorum, but in 1905 Hartmann Grisar initiated what would become a long and difficult process of studying, photographing, and publishing the relics and reliquaries of the chapel. (31) Grisar, a German Jesuit and a specialist in religious archaeology, was well known in both the Italian and German scholarly communities for his work on medieval monuments in Rome and his planned publication of a multi-volume study on the popes of the Middle Ages. When Grisar first heard of Jubaru's research, he immediately wanted to examine the relics firsthand. (32) On May 29, 1905, Grisar received permission from Pius X to publish photographs and a description of the treasure of the Sancta Sanctorum in the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica. (33) With the assistance of the rector of the Passionisti and Cardinal Satolli, Grisar began work on June 6, 1905, when he opened the altar, removed the precious objects, and had them photographed; the archives of the Passionisti indicate that Grisar's work focused on the archaeological, artistic, and historical aspects of the reliquaries rather than the liturgical function of the relics. (34) Just under two weeks after the opening of the altar, on the evening of June 19, 1905, the Passionisti priests and brothers along with Grisar were called into the chapel by Monsignor Marzolini and were sworn to secrecy; information regarding the relics and reliquaries was protected by order of a "segreto" of the holy office of the pope. The relics and reliquaries were then placed in baskets and transferred by pontifical carriage from the Sancta Sanctorum to the Vatican; the Passionisti archives explain that the transfer was done to better secure the precious objects or to avoid a liturgical question prevailing over an artistic one. (35) The reliquaries and their contents were taken to the Museo Sacro of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, where they were examined, photographed, and catalogued by a Capuchin father, Louis-Antoine de Porrentruy. (36) The relics of the Sancta Sanctorum remained in the Vatican until September 13, 1907, when the majority of the relics was returned to the Sancta Sanctorum in simple, sealed containers; the reliquaries, on the other hand, remained in the Vatican collection where they can still be viewed today. (37)

The "segreto" imposed by the pope necessitated that Grisar curtail his work on the Sancta Sanctorum reliquaries. He was not allowed to continue with his planned publication in La Civilta Cattolica and could not give public presentations on his findings. In late August and early September 1905, the Cardinal Secretary of State Rafael Merry del Val received letters from the Apostolic Nunciature in Bavaria, from Grisar, and from Giorgio Haeffer, the president of the G6rres Society, a German group that cultivated scientific inquiry based on Christian principles. (38) The purpose of this correspondence was to determine whether or not Grisar would be able to present his work on the Sancta Sanctorum at the general meeting of the G6rres Society in Munich. (39) This talk, which would have attracted the attention of leading scholars in Germany as well as correspondents from the nation's newspapers, was prohibited by the Vatican.

With the required discretion surrounding the treasure of the Sancta Sanctorum, it was likely very surprising for Grisar to discover a publication by Florian Jubaru issued on September 20, 1905, that essentially summarized the contents of the altar and gave up the secret; apparently, the French Jesuit did not have the same restrictions as those imposed on Grisar. (40) Jubaru mentioned at the end of his article that Grisar had photographed the objects in the Sancta Sanctorum and was planning a larger study on the altar's treasure. This statement caused great concern for Grisar, who immediately wrote to the Vatican to clarify that be had not authorized in any way Jubaru's suggestion of a future publication. (41) Although Jubaru had disclosed the exploration of the altar to the academic community, it was only seven months later, on April 8, 1906, that Grisar was contacted by Father Cario Bricarelli, a writer for the La Civilta Cattolica, that his own publication could proceed. (42)

On May 1, 1906, Grisar received a communication from Cardinal Merry del Val stating that Pius X had conceded permission to the French scholar Philippe Lauer to view the objects of the Sancta Sanctorum, but that Grisar had a position of primacy for a publication; Grisar was further urged not to postpone this work. (43) Lauer had been interested in the Sancta Sanctorum for some time, for he was preparing a history of the medieval palace of the Lateran and had attempted, unsuccessfully, to enter the chapel in 1899 and 1900. (44) During that time, Lauer was a member of the Ecole Francaise de Rome, which was under the directorship of the medieval church historian Louis Duchesne. (45) While unable to gain access to the Sancta Sanctorum, Lauer did investigate the subterranean environment below the Scala Santa. (46) After his time at the Ecole Francaise, Lauer returned to Paris where he assumed a position in the Department of Manuscripts in the Bibliotheque nationale. He may have learned details of the treasure of the Sancta Sanctorum from Leopold Victor Delisle, the Administrator General of the Bibliotheque nationale until 1905; Louis-Antoine de Porrentruy, who was responsible for cataloguing the relics and reliquaries once they reached the Vatican, likely shared information with Delisle, who then would have passed it on to Lauer. (47) Lauer's association with the French scholarly community in Rome and his previous experience researching the Lateran complex would have provided important connections that must have helped him to receive permission to investigate the Sancta Sanctorum's treasure. (48)

On May 23, 1906, with the assistance of the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and the Societe des Antiquaires de France, Lauer was able to examine and photograph the chapel's reliquaries, which were then contained in the Vatican, and was also able to enter and photograph the Sancta Sanctorum and its icon. On June 1, 1906, be presented photographs of all of the reliquaries to a meeting of the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres; because neither Jubaru nor Grisar had published drawings or a detailed description of the works, this was the first time that the reliquaries were revealed to the general public. (49) Lauer's intention was to publish, as quickly as possible, his findings.

Thus, both Grisar and Lauer rapidly completed their work. In the remaining months of 1906, Lauer published two articles and a monograph in French on the treasure of the Sancta Sanctomm. (50) During the same rime, Grisar published seven articles--six in Italian in La Civilta Cattolica and one in German; these texts dealt with the chapel and its relics and reliquaries. (51) In 1907, Grisar continued his scholarship on the Sancta Sanctorum with two additional articles and a monograph in Italian as well as the publication of a conference paper that he had presented at the meeting of the Gorres Society in the previous year. (52) In 1908, he published a monograph on the Sancta Sanctorum in German. (53) Josef Wilpert, a specialist in early Christian and medieval art in Rome, joined this publishing frenzy with two articles, published in Italian and German in 1907, that focused on the icon of Christ found in the Sancta Sanctorum. (54) One should further keep in mind that Florian Jubaru's work on Saint Agnes, published in 1905 and 1907, also detailed his early exploration of the Sancta Sanctorum and its relics. (55) Therefore, from 1905 to 1908, after nearly four hundred years of the altar being closed and extraordinarily limited access to the chapel in general, a total of twenty articles and books were published by Jubaru, Lauer, Grisar, and Wilpert that dealt in some way with the Sancta Sanctorum or its contents.

The initial permission given to Jubaru and the rapid succession of investigations and publications marked especially by the scholars Grisar and Lauer false several important questions. Why were the chapel and its treasure the focus of such intense scrutiny in the early twentieth century? What were the reasons for the rapid, almost clandestine, transfer of the relics from the Sancta Sanctorum to the Vatican? Why was Grisar forced to keep his findings secret? And what does the competitive relationship of Grisar and Lauer tell us about the German and French scholarly communities in Rome? I will respond briefly to these issues.

The initial permission to open the altar that was given to Jubaru in 1902 by Leo XIII must, first of all, be viewed within the context of the adversarial relationship between the Vatican and the Italian state that characterized late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Rome. Under the Law of Guarantees of 1871, the Vatican, Lateran, and Castel Gandolfo came under the control of the papacy and were given the right of extratemtoriality, such that no one could visit or inspect those properties without proper authorization of the pope; however, while the territories remained in the jurisdiction of the papacy, the art and archives formed part of the property of the Italian state. (56) Although the Law of Guarantees was never accepted by any pope, the fear that the Italian state might try to take what remained of the property of the Church may have influenced the initial opening of the Sancta Sanctorum and may have led to the hasty transfer of the chapel's relics to the Vatican just thirteen days after Grisar was allowed to view them. The Roman question, dealing with the political relationship between the pope and Italy, remained a central issue that shaped the pontificates of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and was only resolved with the Lateran Treaty of 1929.

The unification of Italy did not bring an immediate, consistent approach to dealing with cultural patrimony but it did raise concerns at the Vatican over the potential liquidation of the property of bishoprics, cathedral chapters, and religious orders. Already prior to the unification, roles relating to the protection of artistic heritage brought into question the legal standing of the Church in relation to its patrimony. On July 7, 1866, law number 3036 suppressed religious orders and established that the books, manuscripts, scientific documents, archives, monuments and art works found in religious structures were to be transferred to public libraries or provincial museums; on June 19, 1873, this law was expanded to include also Rome and its provinces. (57) In 1875, a centralized directorship for excavations and museums in Italy was established (law number 2440); regulations for the excavations of antiquities were developed in 1877 (law number 3660); and attempts were made to prevent the export of Italy's artistic patrimony (laws number 286 in 1871 and number 31 in 1892). (58) Although the preservation of Italy's artistic heritage was clearly an important priority, by the early 1900s there was not a consistent, national law that dealt with safeguarding cultural patrimony; instead, many regions still relied upon laws and decrees that had been formulated prior to unification. On June 12, 1902, a more comprehensive law (number 185) for the preservation of art and antiquities and for the limitation of their export was passed. (59) Law number 185 was further modified in 1904, with the development of three branches of superintendencies dedicated to monuments, to excavations and antiquities, and to museums and medieval and modern art works; these superintendencies were officially established on June 27, 1907, with law number 386. (60)

With these various laws, which were often revised and amended, the Vatican had reason to be concerned about maintaining its property. In 1884, for example, the curial office of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide was sequestered and sold off even though it clearly was financed by the Catholic faithful. (61) As suggested by John Pollard in his analysis of the financial situation of the Vatican, Leo XIII "feared that the government would lay its hands on what remained of the property of the Italian Church, and especially the religious orders." (62) While Pius X had a slightly better relationship with the Italian state, he still was uncertain about the legal status of the Holy See. Incidents during his pontificate reinforced the precarious position of the Vatican and its holdings; for example, in 1904, when Cardinal Merry del Val moved into the Borgia apartment of the apostolic palace to facilitate the renovation of the secretary of state's apartment, newspapers questioned the renovations by proclaiming that the Vatican should be recognized as Italian property and therefore a national monument. (63)

As an extraterritorial property controlled by the Vatican that was closely linked to history of the papacy, the Lateran would have held important symbolic significance at a time when papal authority was in question. Although Leo XIII never visited the Lateran during his pontificate, he initiated a restoration of the Basilica of San Giovanni in 1881 that included an extension of the apse of the church and the development of pontifical offices. (64) Beyond the structural changes, Leo XIII's choice to focus on the Lateran basilica helped to emphasize the supremacy of the papacy and the centrality of the Catholic Church in the history of Rome, for the basilica was the cathedral of the city and was the first church founded by Constantine.

In 1892, Leo XIII had the remains of the medieval pope, Innocent III, transferred from Perugia to the Lateran basilica. (65) The movement of Innocent III's remains honored the thirteenth-century pope, who Leo XIII held as a model for his own pontificate. (66) Leo XIII was likely well aware of Innocent III's goal to raise the papacy to a sacerdotal-royal position, with the pope at the head of the populus christianus. (67) Innocent III's clear emphasis on the primacy of the papacy would have been specifically relevant to the Roman question and Leo XIII's own desired temporal sovereignty. (68) The decision to bury Innocent III in San Giovanni also underscored the special place that the Lateran held in the pontificate of the medieval pope, for Innocent III had convened the Fourth Lateran Council there in 1215 and had been a patron of the Sancta Sanctorum; Innocent III commissioned the bronze doors that protected the cypress chest containing the Sancta Sanctorum's relics (fig. 3) and likely played a role in sponsoring the silver revetment covering the icon of Christ, as indicated in an accompanying inscription. Upon his death in 1903, Leo XIII joined Innocent III in the Lateran in a tomb opposite that of the medieval pope. (69) The initial exploration of the Sancta Sanctorum, authorized by Leo XIII in 1902, therefore complimented his restoration of the Lateran basilica, the pope's church, with an investigation of the private papal chapel of the Middle Ages.

The investigation of the holy objects found within the Sancta Sanctorum moreover marks a shift in attitude toward the relics of the chapel and the precious reliquaries that contained them. While the desire for a firsthand exploration of early Christian remains propelled Jubaru's critical and archaeological examination of the head of Agnes found within the chapel's altar, subsequent scholars like Grisar and Lauer focused primarily on the relics' silver, gold, or enamel reliquaries. Significantly, when the holy objects were transferred to the Vatican for examination and cataloguing, the reliquaries remained in the Museo Sacro while the relics were returned to the Sancta Sanctorum. The reliquaries, removed from their original context and function, were therefore inserted into the historical continuum of objects associated with the Church that were contained in the museum. (70) The reliquaries would have clearly supported the ideals associated with Benedict XIV's foundation of the Museo Sacro in 1756; an inscription at the entrance to the museum explains the pope's intention to "increase the splendor of the City and bear witness to the truth of religion through sacred Christian monuments." (71) Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, in the Museo Sacro the reliquaries were secure within an environment controlled by the papacy.

The return of the relics to the Sancta Sanctorum, on the other hand, continued to support the efficacy of the papal chapel as a holy destination for pilgrims. With its storehouse of some of the most precious relics in Rome, the Sancta Sanctorum would have reinforced the city's historic sanctity at a time when pilgrimage had strong economic ramifications for the papacy. While not prescribed as a necessary part of Jubilee observances, a visit to the Sancta Sanctorum was often an important part of a pilgrim's stop at the Lateran. In his discussion of the history and ceremonial of the Jubilee published initially in 1900, Herbert Thurston dedicated an extensive description to the Scala Santa and the chapel of the Sancta Sanctorum, where "Rome's most famous sanctuary of relics" and an image of Christ known as the acheropsita were found. (72) While Thurston focuses on the icon of Christ, which was only partially visible behind an elaborate silver cover, he does note the "multitude of other relics enshrined there." (73) Pilgrims would have had limited direct access to the Sancta Sanctorum due to the private nature of the chapel bur would have been able to view the altar containing the relics and the icon of Christ through the grillwork located at the top of the Scala Santa. (74) The mention of the chapel's relics in pilgrims' guides and texts like that of Thurston would have reconfirmed the holiness of the site, the historic nature of the chapel, and the veracity of the inscription found in the Sancta Sanctorum: NON EST IN TOTO SANCTIOR ORBE LOCVS. (75)

Pilgrimage to Rome and the potential financial benefits that it assured were of central importance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As a means of celebrating the Church and emphasizing the centrality of Rome, Leo XIII established special indulgences in the years 1879, 1881, and 1886, jubilees in 1887, 1893, and 1898, the anno santo in 1900, and a silver jubilee in 1903 to celebrate the pope's twenty-fifth year in office. (76) The series of jubilees and celebrations was important not only for inflaming the religious zeal of Catholics but also for raising Peter's Pence, which financially supported the Holy See with funds that were sent directly to Rome. (77) Clearly, the number of pilgrims to the city also drastically increased during Jubilee celebrations. For example, during the Holy Year of 1900, 1,300,000 pilgrims went to Rome; this extraordinarily high number may have been due in part to the cancellation of the ordinary jubilees in 1850 and 1875. (78) Leo XIII's decision to approve Jubaru's request to open the altar of the Sancta Sanctorum the year before the Jubilee of 1903 that celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his pontificate may have therefore had an economic relevance to the contemporary financial situation of the papacy as well as a connection to Leo XIII's general interest in the Lateran and in projects related to the pontificate of Innocent III.

Money was certainly an issue for the papacy during this period. Having lost the revenues of the papal states after 1870, the Vatican refused the annual compensation offered in the Law of Papal Guarantees in 1871 and instead came to depend on the alms of the Catholic world for its sustenance. (79) While these funds initially provided higher yearly revenues than would have been received through the Law of Guarantees, by the early 1890s poor investments led to a loss of about one-third of the capital fund. (80) The jubilee years helped to provide a framework for the financial mobilization of Catholics and also served to reinforce a more direct emotional and physical connection between the faithful and the "imprisoned" pope. A New York Times article describes the opening ceremony for the jubilee of 1903, in which crowds greeted Leo XIII with the words "Long live the Pope-King." (81) In conjunction with this jubilee, $40,000 was received specifically for the restoration of the Lateran basilica of San Giovanni, which desperately needed additional repairs for its roof threatened to collapse. (82)

In addition to the economic situation of the papacy, the investigation of the Sancta Sanctorum must also be viewed against the backdrop of the intense division of critical methods that characterized late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scholarship. The founding of historical institutes in Rome, coupled with the opening of the Vatican Archives in 1881 under Leo XIII, provided unprecedented resources for ecclesiastical and historical research. (83) The Ecole Francaise de Rome, established in 1873 and supported by the French government, focused on archaeological, philological, and historical studies with much research related to the holdings of the Vatican Archives and the publication of papal registers. Shortly thereafter, the Germans founded the Gorres Society Historical Institute in 1876 with a seat in Rome in 1887; a department devoted to the study of Christian archaeology and art was created in 1900 under the directorship of Josef Wilpert. (84) These institutions, along with others established with British, Austrian, Prussian, Hungarian, Belgian, and Dutch sponsorship, developed an environment of intense scholarly inquiry into sources that had hitherto been inaccessible. Leo XIII underscored the significance of using these documents to promote impartial and critical research; in an address given to the Gorres Society in 1884, Leo XIII stated: "Go to the sources. That is why I have opened the archives to you. We are not afraid of people publishing documents out of them." (85) As Owen Chadwick has noted, across Europe and especially in liberal newspapers, Leo XIII's opening of the archives was applauded and the pope was associated with "abandoning the era of attack upon the modern world which was the era of Pope Pius IX, and turning to the era of enquiry and discussion." (86) The free access to, and publishing of, the Vatican documents also helped to delineate the papacy's historical position in Roman and European culture and establish the pope's temporal and spiritual power at a time when the papacy's contemporary position was increasingly uncertain.

The death of Leo XIII and the election of Pius X ushered in a more openly conservative scholarly environment. In the early years of his pontificate, Pius X warned bishops to be aware of more radical interpretations of the past and urged them to take action against seminarians who, "animated by a critical spirit without limits.... lose all respect for the science derived from our great teachers, Church Fathers, and interpreters of revealed doctrine." (87) In the E supremi apostolatus of October 4, 1903, Pius X expressed the necessity to "use the greatest diligence to prevent the members of the clergy from being drawn to the snares of a certain new and fallacious science, which savoureth not of Christ, but with masked and cunning arguments strives to open the door to the errors of rationalism and semi-rationalism." (88) In 1907, Pius X's campaign against modernism was crystallized in the papal encyclical, Pascendi dominici gregis. (89) Pius X described the various facets of a modernist's personality: he could be a philosopher, a believer, a theologian, a historian, a critic, an apologist, or a reformer. Modernists neglected scholasticism and instead favored a rationalist approach to the Bible, secularism, and modem philosophical systems. Pius X cautioned specifically against theologians whose false, modernist beliefs would potentially lead to agnosticism and then to the "annihilation of all religion--atheism." (90)

To prevent the spreading of modernist thought and the potential corruption of seminarians or university students, Pius X described the necessity for both episcopal vigilance over publications and censorship. He specified the
   writings of some Catholics, who, though not badly disposed
   themselves but ill-instructed in theological studies and imbued
   with modern philosophy, strive to make this harmonize with the
   faith, and, as they say, to turn it to the account of the faith.
   The name and reputation of these authors caused them to be read
   without suspicion, and they were, therefore, all the more dangerous
   in preparing the way for Modernism. (91)

Official censors were to examine already published books as well as papers or periodicals for any text that might be "infected with Modernism." (92) Congresses and public gatherings were also considered potential locations where modernists could congregate and disseminate their ideas; the risks were especially great when the presenter was a priest, leading to the rule that "in the future Bishops shall not permit Congresses of priests except on very rare occasions" and only dealing with subjects that made no mention of modernism, presbyterianism, or laicism. (93)

The effects of Pascendi dominici gregis and the papal campaign against modernism were widespread in Catholic Europe. In June 1908, the publication of a pamphlet by a professor of Canon Law at the University of Innsbruck was considered offensive to Catholic authorities and led to the removal of the professor; rioting students who refused to attend classes forced the closure of the Universities of Vienna, Innsbruck and Gratz. (94) By 1910, both clerics facing ordination and teachers of philosophy and theology at Catholic colleges, universities, and seminaries were required to swear an oath against modernism. (95) One should remember, in this context, that Grisar, as a Jesuit priest, came under the direct potential censorship from ecclesiastical authorities; from 1895, Grisar was furthermore affiliated with the University of Innsbruck as a professor of church history.

By the time of the exploration of the Sancta Sanctorum, Grisar had already had problems with ecclesiastical authorities in relation to his scholarship, for his publications and presentations on early Christian and medieval art were, at times, criticized by the Church hierarchy. As observed by Father Martin Garcia, the superior general of the Jesuit Order from 1892 to 1906, "although not exaggerated in his views ... [Grisar] frequently spoke against many Roman traditions on saints and relics, calling them--often with reason--legends of ignorant sacristans and unfounded fables invented in the Middle Ages and transmitted by credulous people and later by pious writers with no sense of history." (96) Such was the case with Grisar's article of 1895 on the crib of Jesus in Santa Maria Maggiore, a publication that was negatively received by the Vatican but was defended by the Archaeological Society of Rome. (97) In 1900, Grisar gave a talk at a Catholic Congress in Munich that questioned the House of Loreto, the Roman Martyrology, and stories in the Breviary. His speech, widely reported in both Catholic and non-Catholic sources, caused great concern in part because of the potential for "dangerous interpretations." (98) A Jesuit historian in attendance noted that "a certain sarcasm and flippancy with which the veneration of some relics was treated threw all their cult into a certain ridiculous situation, to the great joy of the Protestants, who already begin to crow in their newspapers." (99) The planned publication of this speech in La Civilta Cattolica was denied by Cardinal Rampolla and Pope Leo XIII. (100) Grisar's conflict with the Vatican may have led to the economic cutbacks that curtailed the funding that he had been promised by the Vatican for a four-volume publication on the popes of the Middle Ages. (101) One should note that Grisar's request to view the Sancta Sanctorum was related to this very study.

Grisar was therefore known for having a "very liberal criticism." (102) Perhaps not surprisingly, he continued to question the reliability of specific relics in his discussion of the treasury of the Sancta Sanctorum. In relation to his examination of a gemmed cross reliquary that supposedly once contained the circumcised foreskin of Christ, Grisar noted that relics are not infallible and errors relating to the accuracy of specific objects can occur and be repeated over time; such involuntary mistakes should not, however, discredit the general authority of the Church. (103) Rather than allow errors to be perpetuated, Grisar stressed the importance of expressing the truth, for it is better for those within the Church to correct the inaccuracies of the past than to risk potential adversaries using the same information for evil purposes. In his analysis of the gemmed cross, Grisar noted that the reliquary was associated with the circumcised foreskin of Christ from the time of John the Deacon in the twelfth century, an association that was both perpetuated and questioned in subsequent centuries. Following an examination of contradictory historical sources and theological inconsistencies relating to the resurrection of Christ, Grisar concluded that evidence of the relic's cult activities in Rome was limited to the twelfth century, which raised doubt over the relic's general authenticity.

Notably, Grisar put forth these questions dealing with the accuracy of holy objects like the foreskin of Christ in the Jesuit journal, La Civilta Cattolica, a periodical dedicated primarily to articles dealing with Christian theological and philosophical thought as well as texts of general cultural interest. (104) Founded by the Jesuits with papal funding in 1850, the bi-monthly journal increasingly came under the control of the pope. When Pius X took office, he ordered the superior general of the Jesuits, Martin, to change the directorship of the periodical; in this way, the editor was appointed or at least approved by the papacy. (105) Proposed articles also had to be accepted by the cardinal secretary of state and sometimes, as was the case with Grisar, were denied publication. Prior to being released to the general public, the journal proofs furthermore had to be approved by the cardinal secretary of state to guarantee that all articles were in conformity with the official teachings of the Church. (106)

In contrast to Grisar, Lauer published his findings on the Sancta Sanctorum in venues that did not have such a strong tie with the Vatican but rather were linked more closely with the French scholarly community. His initial articles appeared in Le Moyen Age, a journal founded in 1888 that served as a bulletin of information and critical recensions for medievalists of the French language, and in the Revue de l'art ancien et moderne, a periodical founded in 1897 that was dedicated to the publishing of modern erudition relating to all artistic epochs. (107) His monograph was published as part of the series Monuments et Memoires by the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, the same institution that had assisted Lauer in his initial endeavor to explore the Sancta Sanctorum. (108)

The delays imposed by the Church on Grisar and the ensuing competitive publishing environment that developed between the German Jesuit and Lauer were clearly referenced and described in their resulting publications; each author attempted to establish his precedence and the significance of his discoveries. Grisar's lecture at the Gorres Society, subsequently published in the journal of the society in 1907, underscores the novelty of the Jesuit's findings by clearly stating that his talk marked the first time that the general public could witness the treasure of the Sancta Sanctorum and by emphasizing that Lauer's investigation took place long after his own.109 Grisar further describes to his audience his original intention to speak at the Munich meeting of the Gorres Society in 1905 and his inability to do so because the Vatican wanted to first catalogue and secure the objects. (110) In Grisar's initial series of articles appearing in La Civilta Cattolica, however, he limits his discussion to an explanation of the special concession that he received from Pius X to enter the medieval chapel and a mention of Jubaru's preliminary investigation of the relic of Saint Agnes. (111) By the time of the publication of Grisar's monograph on the Sancta Sanctorum in 1907, Lauer's work had come out and it was necessary for Grisar to establish his position of priority. In a long introduction, Grisar clarifies that already in 1894 he had entered the Sancta Sanctorum with the permission of Leo XIII and that he immediately resumed an attempt to view the contents of the altar following news of Jubaru's 1903 examination of the relics of Agnes. (112) Grisar outlines his request to Pius X, explains his desire to publish his findings in La Civilta Cattolica, and establishes a connection between the exploration of the Sancta Sanctorum and his other scholarly endeavors on the medieval papacy. To prove his precedence, he notes that both Italian and foreign newspapers announced and publicized his discoveries in the Sancta Sanctorum. (113) In almost painful detail, Grisar recounts the difficulties he encountered in publishing his materials and the papal "veto" that blocked even the presentation of his findings. He expresses his surprise over Jubaru's 1905 publication and greater dismay after learning that Lauer had arrived in Rome with the intention of publishing the treasure of the Sancta Sanctorum. (114) Grisar underscores that Lauer was well aware of Grisar's relationship with the treasure and the restrictions that had been placed on his publication. Grisar then proceeds to describe in detail his articles and their dates of publication as well as his presentation in Germany of his findings, always emphasizing the public and scholarly recognition that he received and the novelty of his scientific inquiry. (115) He concludes his introduction with a comparison of his work with that of Lauer.

Lauer's texts instead express concern that the treasure of the Sancta Sanctorum might remain in obscurity if he did not publish his conclusions. (116) Although Lauer recognizes that Grisar had been authorized to view the treasure of the Sancta Sanctorum, he suggests that the publication of the Jesuit's findings would be delayed, if not indefinitely postponed. Working out of the "general interest," Lauer chose "an energetic intervention" and quickly published his work. Notably, Lauer's publications on the treasures of the chapel resemble and compliment those of Grisar; both scholars are, more often than not, in agreement on dates and in their common focus on the historical and archaeological context for the reliquaries.

In the environment of the dynamically developing scholarly community in Rome, it is not surprising that competition existed between different groups or scholars. The exploration of the Sancta Sanctorum and the sheer quantity of publications dedicated to its contents was, nonetheless, exceptional. Although it might be tempting to suggest a general, nationalistic competition based on the German and French heritage of Grisar and Lauer, it seems that the numerous publications were centered more on individual, scholarly rivalry.

Grisar and Lauer were, however, both favored by the particular historical circumstances that characterized the Vatican in the early twentieth century, for the decision to open the "Holy of Holies" reinforced the spiritual and temporal primacy of the papacy in Rome at a time when the political relationship between the pope and Italy was in question. The scholarship generated by Grisar and Lauer as well as by Jubaru and Wilpert unquestionably provided new focus on the treasures of the medieval Church while firmly rooting the history of those treasures in the Roman context. As demonstrated in this article, the exploration of the holy objects found within the Sancta Sanctorum illustrates some of the complexities of early twentieth-century Rome--an environment that was characterized by new research methods combined with the ensuing threat of modernism, by academic competition within the energetic scholarly community of the city, by the changing economic circumstances of the papacy, and by the related conflict with the Italian state.

I would like to thank Father Tito Amodei, Eunice Cristina Marques dos Santos, and the Passionisti for their generous assistance in the consultation of documents in the Archivio Provinciale dei Passionisiti della Scala Santa. Thanks are also due to Mario Cempanari, Cristiana Filippini, and Martina Bagnoli for discussions of the early twentieth-century exploration of the Sancta Sanctorum. I am further indebted to the editors of Church History and the anonymous reader for their important suggestions. A shorter version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the College Art Association in Los Angeles in 2009.

(1) William H. C. Frend, The Archaeology of Early Christianity: A History (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 76-81.

(2) Frend, The Archaeology of Early Christianity, 160-64. For varying interpretations of these early Christian finds, see the writings of Josef Wilpert and Josef Strzygowski.

(3) Dan O'Leary, Roman Catholicism and Modern Science: A History (New York: Continuum, 2006), 113-28.

(4) Providentissimus Deus (1893); for quotes, see paragraphs 15, 10, xiii_enc_18111893_providentissimus-deus_en.html (accessed November 11, 2010). See also O'Leary, Roman Catholicism, 68-72.

(5) Ibid., paragraph 20.

(6) Ibid., paragraph 10.

(7) O'Leary, Roman Catholicism, 114; Dean Bechard, "Remnants of Modernism in a Postmodern Age," America (February 4, 2002), (accessed November 8, 2010).

(8) O'Leary, Roman Catholicism, 115; Harvey Hill, "Leo XIII, Loisy, and the 'Broad School': An Early Round of the Modernist Crisis," Catholic Historical Review 89, no. 1 (January 2003): 39-59, esp. 58-59.

(9) Much has been written on the Law of Guarantees; see, for example, A. Pearce Higgins, "The Papacy and International Law," Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation, New Ser., vol. 9, no. 2 (1908): 252-64 and Gordon Ireland, "The State of the City of the Vatican," The American Journal of International Law 27, no. 2 (1933): 271-89.

(10) "A Letter from Italy, Rome, December 20, 1879," The Churchman 41 (1880), 62-63.

(11) Sible de Blaauw, "Il Patriarchio, la basilica laternanense e la liturgia," Melanges de l'Ecole francaise de Rome. Antiquite 116 (2004), 168; Bernhard Schimmelpfennig, The Papacy, trans. James Sievert (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992), 161.

(12) In 1521, Pope Leo X issued a bull that threatened excommunication to those who offered the mass from the altar of the Sancta Sanctorum without special papal permission; see Giovanni Marangoni, Istoria dell'antichissimo oratorio, o cappella di San Lorenzo nel Patriarchio Lateranense comunemente appellato Sancta Sanctorum (Rome, 1748), 64q58, esp. 65; and Gaetano Moroni, s.v. "Scala Santa," in Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica, vol. 62 (Venice: Tipografia Emiliana, 1853), 67.

(13) Even the noteworthy Christian archaeologist, Giovanni Battista de Rossi (1822 1894), "to whom most doors in Rome flew open," had difficulty in gaining access to the Sancta Santorum; see H. M. Bannister, review of Le tresor du Sancta Sanctorum, by Philippe Lauer and Die romische Kapelle Sancta Sanctorum, by Hartmann Grisar, The English Historical Review 24 (1909): 762. The Sancta Sanctorum remained closed to the public until just prior to the Jubilee of 2000.

(14) For a summary of the sources for the relics in the Sancta Sanctorum, see Bruno Galland, Les authentiques de reliques du Sancta Sanctorum (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica, 2004).

(15) For a reproduction of John the Deacon's text, see Philippe Lauer, Le tresor du Sancta Sanctorum (Paris: Emest Leroux, Editeur, 1906), 28-31.

(16) For Urban V's removal of the relics, see Marangoni, Istoria, 61. Prior to Urban V's intervention, Tolomeo da Lucca created an abbreviated list of relics following Nicholas III's (12721280) restoration of the chapel. See Marangoni, Istoria, 24-25; Lauer, Le tresor, 32.

(17) See Lauer's discussion and transcription of Onofrio Panvinio, De praecipuis urbis Romae sanctiorbusque basilicis, quas septem ecclesias vulgo vocant (Rome, 1570) in Le tresor, 32-33.

(18) Onofrio Panvinio describes that a piece of the true cross was taken during the Sack (Le sette chiese romane [Rome, 1570], 240). Lorenzo Bonincontri compiled an additional description of the relics in 1624; for a reproduction of this text, see Lauer, Le tresor, 34-37.

(19) Marangoni, Istoria.

(20) For the most complete discussion of the examination of the treasure of the Saneta Sanctorum in the early twentieth century, see Mario Cempanari, Sancta Sanctorum Lateranense, vol. 2, II Santuario della Scala Santa dalle origini ai nostri giorni (Rome: Citta Nuova, 2003), 634-50.

(21) Jubaru subsequently published his findings in "Le ehef de Sainte Agnese au tresor du Saneta Sanctorum," Etudes 104 (1905): 721 31; Jubaru, Sainte Agnes. Vierge et martyre de la Voie Nomentane d'apres de nouvelles recherches (Paris: J. Dumoulin, 1907); Jubaru, Sainte Agnes d'apres de nouvelles recherches (Paris: J. Dumoulin, 1907).

(22) Jubaru, "Le chef de Sainte Agnese," 722.

(23) Ibid., 723.

(24) For additional information on Rampolla, see Maximilian Claar, "Kardinal Rampolla ais Staatssekretar und Papstwerber 1887-1903," Europaische Gesprache 7 (1929): 465-81.

(25) Leo XIII also had a special relationship with the Jesuits; see David Schultenover, A View from Rome: On the Eve of the Modernist Crisis (New York: Fordham University Press, 1993), esp. 164-68

(26) Jubaru ("Le chef de Sainte Agnese," 724) indicates that the lack of keys explains Pius IX's unsuccessful attempt to open the altar.

(27) The events leading up to the opening of the altar on April 14, 1903, and the examination of the relics on April 19 is extensively discussed in Jubaru, "Le chef de Sainte Agnese," 723-31, and in the Platea (or Cronaca) of the Passionisti of 1903, 87-89 found in the Archivio Provinciale dei Passionisti della Scala Santa (hereafter APPSS). See also, APPSS, Casella II, Cartella 1, Apertura della Cassa delle Reliquie nel Sancta Sanctorum, Documents II-1-la, II-1-2. Jubaru requested permission to photograph the reliquaries found in the Sancta Sanctorum on April 15, 1903, as recorded in ASV, Segreteria di Stato, Anho 1902-1903, Rubrica 1G, fasc. 19. Permission was conceded on April 18.

(28) Jubaru, "Le chef de Sainte Agnese," 728. Jubaru briefly mentions his findings in a letter to Cardinal Satolli on April 15; see ASV, Segreteria di Stato, Anno 1902-1903, Rubrica 1G, fasc. 19. Lauer reproduces the document of the recognition of the head of Saint Agnes, dated April 19, 1903 (see Le tresor, 8-9).

(29) ASV, Segreteria di Stato, Anno 1903, Rubrica 16, fasc. 2: "Secondo il permesso ottenuto dai S. Padre il Rev. P. Floriano Jubaru S.J. fece aprire l'interno dei altare nel Sancta Sanetorum, alla mia presenza, dei rev. P. Bonavenia e di alcuni religiosi Passionisi della Scala Santa. Realmente insieme alia Teca contenente il capo di S. Agnese, ivi per ravvisata gran quantita di teche e reliquie, ripostevi da lunga mano di secoli. Si richiederebbe accurato esame sul pregio delle varie teche, (o capsule), piene di reliquie. Ma quello che mi sembra pifa conveniente, se non vogliamo dire necessario per la conservazione e pel decoro delle tante venerande reliquie, e che il S. Padre dia ordine di una visita regolare all'Emo. Vicario e Commissione Liturgica, onde si prorenegga [?] in proposito."

(30) ASV, Segreteria di Stato, Anno 1903, Rubrica 16, fasc. 2: "Adcuspio [?] ora all'incarico di significarle esser mente di Sua Santita che, terminasi dai P. Jubaru gli studi per i quali era stato autorizzato, l'altare dei Sancta Sanctorum sia subito rimesso in pristinum."

(31) Notably, Grisar received permission from Leo XIII in 1894 to enter and photograph the chapel, but he was unable to see more than a few objects preserved behind the grills located above the altar; from that point on, however, he was very interested in returning to examine the altar itself. See Grisar, Il Sancta Sanctorum ed il suo tesoro sacro (Rome: Civilta Cattolica, 1907), 1. For Grisar's exploration of the altar, see also Cempanari, Sancta Sanctorum Lateranense, 2:638-41.

(32) Grisar describes his desire: "pensai di approfittare del mio prossimo soggiorno in Roma per i passi occorrenti a levare intieramente il velo, o, se debbo ripetere un'espressione del discorso che pronunciai a Bonn (veggasi piu oltre), per conquistare completamente, il piu presto possibile, la posizione sulla quale il P. Jubaru aveva pel primo piantato la bandiera della scienza" (II Saneta Sanctorum, 3).

(33) Grisar, Il Sancta Sanctorum, 3-4. Grisar noted his need to investigate the relics of the Saneta Sanctorum as part of his study on the popes of the Middle Ages and, furthermore, requested to photograph the objects. A copy of this letter is also found in the APPSS, Casella II, Cartella 1, Apertura della Cassa delle Reliquie nel Sancta Sanctorum, Document II-l-3.

(34) For Grisar's investigation, see APPSS, Platea, 1905, 94-95: "II suo studio si limitava quindi alia parte archeologica, artistica e storica e nulla avea da fare colla parte liturgica, cioe relativamente alie reliquie" (95); Grisar's emphasis on the reliquaries, rather than the relics themselves, was reconfmned in a letter dated June 9, 1905 (APPSS, Casella II, Cartella 1, Apertura della Cassa delle Reliquie nel Sancta Sanctorum, Doeument II-1-6) and in bis publication, II Sanem Sanctorum (5). Grisar further notes that he developed a provisional catalogue of the diseovered objects "secondo qualita, numero ed importanza archeologica" (6). In his investigation of the altar's treasures, Gfisar was assisted by P. Bricarelli, S.J. and Wuescher Becchi, an archaeologist and member of the Aecademia Pontificia.

(35) Records of the Passionisti explain the reasons for the treasure's transfer and how that transfer was conducted (APPSS, Platea, 1905, 95): the cardinal secretary of state "o spinta dalla notizia direi quasi incredibile del dotto areheologo che stimolo il Cardinale di trasferire i preziosi oggetti al Vaticano col pretesto di averli in maggior sicurezza, o per evitare una questione liturgica prevalente quella artistica per cui solo valeva li permesso accordatogli in nome di Sua Santita ne ordino il trasloco con lettera del 15 giugno .... Monsig.r Marzolini, rappresentante del Vaticano, avendo chiamati i soliti sacerdoti e fratelli nella Cappella del Sancta Sanctomm e presente anehe il P. Grisar, dopo imposto a tutti il Segreto dei S. Officio, ordino l'estrazione degli oggetti deli'arca, li depose in appositi canestri, e colla carrozza pontificia, li trasferi insieme ai P. Grisar al Vaticano. Era sul declinare dei 19 giugno." See also APPSS, Casella II, Cartella 1, Apertura della Cassa delle Reliquie nel Sancta Sanctorum, Document II-l-4; Cempanari, Sanetu Sanetorum Lateranense, 2:642.

(36) Galland, Les authentiques de reliques, 22. This catalogue is conserved in BAV, Arch. Bibl., 78.

(37) Ibid., 23. The head of Saint Agnes was instead transferred to the church of Sant'Agnese on January 19, 1908. On February 16, 1933, the modest containers from 1907 were replaced with "altre custodie di argento e metallo dorato, non senza qualche valore artistico'; APPSS, Platea, 1933, 199. In 1999, the Museo Sacro came under the general direction of the Vatican Museums (Monumenti, Musei e Gallerie Pontificie).

(38) For copies of these letters, see ASV, Segreteria di Stato, Anno 1905, Rubrica 255, fase. 1, number 13411. The "G6rres-Gesellschafl zur Pflege der Wissenscbafl ira katholischen Deutschland" was founded in 1876. For the early history of the G6rres Society, see Hermann Cardauns, Die Gorres-Gesellsehaft 1876-1901. Denksehrift zur feier ihres 25jahrigen bestehens nebst Jahresberiehtfur 1900 (Cologne: J. P. Bachem, 1901); Mary Gonzaga, The Mysticism of Johann Joseph von Gorres as a Reaction against Rationalism (Ph.D. diss., Catholic University of America, 1920), esp. 160-62.

(39) The Apostolic Nunciature of Bavaria explains: "E poiche i miei visitatori insistevano sul diverso grado di pubblicita che avrebbe avuto l'insezzione degli accennati studii nella Civilta Cattolica contro quella di un discorso letto in un'Accademia mi convenne dimostrare all'evidenza la proposizione apposta, in vista dell'importanza della Societa Gorres, della fama del dotto Gesuita gia noto per altri troppo geniali lavori, che attrarrebbero a Monaco tutti gli amatori di novita e della moderna critica e tutti i corrispondenti dei giomali di Germania, anche dalle tinte piu accentute." ASV, Segreteria di Stato, Armo 1905, Rubrica 255, fasc. 1, number 13411.

(40) Jubaru, "Le chef de Sainte Agnese," 721-31; Grisar, Il Sancta Sanctorum, 7.

(41) ASV, Segreteria di Stato, Anno 1905, Rubrica 255, fasc. 1, number 13744.

(42) Grisar, Il Sancta Sanctorum, 8. Permission had been granted by Cardinal Merry dei Vai.

(43) Grisar reproduces this letter in 11 Sancta Sanctorum, 9. For a biography of Philippe Lauer (1874-1953), see Jean Bayet, "Philippe Lauer," Melanges de l'Ecole francaise de Rome 65 (1953): 287-89; and Charles Samaran, "Philippe Lauer," Bibliotheque de l'Ecole des chartes 113 (1955): 354-57.

(44) Lauer, Le tresor, 7-8. His history of the Lateran Palace was subsequently published as Le Palais de Latran; etude historique et archeologique (Paris: Emest Leroux, 1911).

(45) Lauer was a member of the Ecole Francaise from 1898-1900; see Bayet, "Philippe Lauer," 288; and Samaran, "Philippe Lauer," 354.

(46) Lauer presented this material to the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres on June 1, 1900 and published his findings in "Les Fouilles du Sancta Sanctorum au Latran," Melanges d 'archeologie et d 'histoire 20 (1900): 251 87. See also Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Comptes Rendus 1 (1900): 318, 320-24, 380-82.

(47) Galland, Les authentiques de reliques, 22. For information on Delisle, see David Bates, "Leopold Delisle (1826-1910)." in Medieval Scholarship: Biographical Studies on the Formation of a Discipline. Vol. 1: History, ed. Helen Damico and Joseph B. Zavadil (New York: Garland, 1995), 101-13. Delisle, one of the most renowned experts on the Middle Ages in Europe, retired from his position at the Bibliotheque nationale on February 21, 1905.

(48) In his early publication, Lauer thanks especially Leopold Delisle, A. de Boilisle, Perrot, Cagnat, Schlumberger, Heron de Villefosse, the Baron de Baye, Cardinal Vives y Tuto, Fr. X. Hertzog, Fr. Thedenat, Fr. Cormier, Fr. Subiger, Fr. Pie de Langogne, Fr. Lemius, Fr. Florian Jubaru, and Fr. Louis-Antoine de Porrentruy. See Lauer, "Le tresor du Sancta Sanctomm," Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 20 (1906): 12.

(49) A record of this presentation is found in Academie des lnscriptions et Belles-Lettres. Comptes Rendus (1906): 223-26. Father Louis-Antoine de Porrentruy provided Lauer with the photographs used during his presentation.

(50) Lauer, "Notice sur le tresor du Sancta Sanctorum au Latran," Le Moyen Age, 2e serie, vol. 10 (1906): 18%98; Lauer, Le tresor; and Lauer, "Le tresor." In H. M. Bannister's review of Lauer's book (761nl), he notes that the text has a publication date of 1906, but the book also has plates that date to 1907.

(51) "Die angebliche Christusreliquie im mittelalterlichen (Praeputium Domini)," Rrmische Quartalschrift Jur christliche Altertumskunde und Kirchengeschicte 20 (1906): 109-22; "L'oratorio di S. Lorenzo nell'antico palazzo dei Laterano," La Civilta Cattoliea 4 (1906): 673-87; "Il 'Sancta Sanctorum' in Roma e il suo tesoro novamente aperto," La Civilta Cattolica 2 (1906): 51344; "Il 'Sancta Sanctorum' in Roma e il suo tesoro novamente aperto," La Civilta Cattolica 2 (1906): 70800; "Il 'Sancta Sanctorum' in Roma e il suo tesoro novamente aperto," La Civilta Cattolica 3 (1906): 161-76; "II tesoro del 'Sancta Sanctomm,'" La Civilta Cattolica 4 (1906): 51-73; "Tessuti antichi nel tesoro del 'Sancta Sanctomm,'" La Civilta Cattolica 4 (1906): 563 75.

(52) "L'immagine acheropita del Salvatore al Sancta Sanctorum," La Civilta Cattolica 1 (1907): 434-50; "L'oratorio di S. Lorenzo nell'antico palazzo del Laterano," La Civilta Cattolica 1 (1907): 48-62; II Sancta Sanctorum; "'Die lateranische Palastkapelle der mittelalterlichen Papste und ihr neuerschlossener Schatz," Jahresbericht der Grrres-Gesellschafi zur Pflege der Wissenschafi im katholischen Deutschland Jur das Jahr 1906 (1907): 21-35.

(53) Die romische Kapelle Sancta Sanctorum (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1908). For a critique of this text, see Emst Steinmann, "Sancta Sanctorum," review of Hartmann Grisar's Die romische Kapeelle Sancta Sanctorum in Monatshefie fur Kunstwissenschafi 1 (1908): 298-310.

(54) "L'acheropita ossia l'immagine del Salvatore nella Cappella del Sancta Sanctomm," L 'Arte 10 (1907): 161-77, 247-62; "Die Acheropita oder das Bild des Emmanuel in der Kapelle 'Sancta Sanctorum,'" Rrmische Quartalsehrift 21 (1907): 65-92.

(55) "Le chef de Sainte Agnese"; Sainte Agnes. 18erge et martyre; Sainte Agnes d'apres de nouvelles recherches.

(56) Higgins, "The Papacy," 258.

(57) Salvatore Italia, "La battaglia per la tutela: premesse storiche," in Cento anni di tutela. Atti del Convegno di studi, Florence, 19 September 2005, ed. Cosimo Ceccuti (Florence: Edizioni Polistampa, 2007), 13-14; John E Pollard, Money and the Rise of the Modern Papacy: Financing the Vatican, 1850-1950 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 66. The 1873 law was known as number 1402.

(58) Italia, "La battaglia per la tutela," 14-15.

(59) Legislazione nazionale Beni Culturali: dagli Stati preunitari all'eta contemporanea, 20-21 ( D6FA863F96A1D4D0C1256F8900472FC7/$file/legislazione.pdf; accessed November 8, 2009). For a brief discussion of the protection of artistic patrimony in the early twentieth century, see also Cempanari, Sancta Sanctorum Lateranense, 2:636.

(60) Paola Monari, "The Creation of Regional Architectural and Cultural Heritage Superintendency," dellesoprintendenze-in-emilia-romagna (accessed November 8, 2009). A new law of Antiquities and Fine Arts (number 364) was passed two years later on June 20, 1909.

(61) Pollard, Money, 66.

(62) Ibid.

(63) Ibid., 95.

(64) Notably, Leo XIII's predecessor, Leo X (1513-1521), restored the Lateran baptistery and investigated the relics housed in the Sancta Sanctourm; see Jack Freiberg, The Lateran in 1600: Christian Concord in Counter-Reformation Rome (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 9. For Leo XIII's project, see Oskar Kohler, "The World Plan of Leo XIII: Goals and Methods," in The Church in the Industrial Age, vol. 9, History of the Church, ed. Hubert Jedin and John Dolan (New York: Crossroad, 1981), 18; Schultenover, A View from Rome, 21; Jan de Maeyer, "Leon XIII: 'Lumen in Coelo' Glissements de la perception dans le contexte d'un processus de modernisation religieuse," in The Papacy and the New World Order. La papaute et le nouvel ordre mondial (Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, 2005), 314.

(65) For a discussion of the transfer of the remains of Innocent III, see Kohler, "The World Plan of Leo XIII," 18-19; Schultenover, A View from Rome, 19-21. The transfer of Innocent III's remains was justified in a speech given by Leo XIII to his cardinals; see Acta Leonis XII, 383-85, as cited and discussed in Kohler, "The World Plan of Leo XIII," 18-19.

(66) See Kohler, "The World Plan of Leo XIII," 18.

(67) Schultenover, A View from Rome, 20.

(68) Ibid.

(69) Kohler, "The World Plan of Leo XIII," 19.

(70) In 1934, under Pope Pius XI, the reliquaries were displayed to the public following a rearrangement of the Museo Sacro. Leonard von Matt, Georg Daltrop, and Adriano Prandi, Art Treasures of the Vatican Library (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1970), 10, 74.

(71) As cited by Matilda Webb, The Churches and Catacombs of Early Christian Rome (Brighton: Sussex Academic, 2001), 30.

(72) Herbert Thurston, S.J., The Holy Year of Jubilee: An Account of the History and Ceremonial of the Roman Jubilee (London: Sands, 1900), 185; for the Scala Santa and the Sancta Sanctorum, see 185-96.

(73) Ibid., 196.

(74) Bannister noted that the chapel was "opened for a few minutes only on six days of the year" (review of Le tresor, by Lauer, and Die romische Kapelle, by Grisar, 762).

(75) For the mention of the Sancta Sanctorum in pilgrims' guides, see, for example, M. l'Abbe Laumonier, The Pilgrim's Guide to Rome, trans. Charles J. Munich (London: R. & T. Washbourne, 1900), 57-58. Indulgences were offered to pilgrims who climbed the Scala Santa on their knees.

(76) "Pope Leo XIII.'s Jubilee," New York Times, February 21, 1903, p. 1; Annibale Zambarbieri, "Forms, Impulses and Iconography in Devotion to Pope Leo XIII," in The Papacy and the New World Order. La papaute et le nouvel ordre mondial, ed. Vincent Viaene (Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, 2005), 254; Rupert Klieber, "Efforts and Difficulties in Financing the Holy See by Means of Peter's Pente. Can Ultramontanism be Quantified?" in The Papacy and the New World Order. La papaute et le nouvel ordre mondial. 1878-1903, ed. Vincent Viaene (Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, 2005), 290-92.

(77) Klieber, "Efforts and Difficulties."

(78) The increasing numbers of pilgrims may also be related to advances in train and steamship transportation (Pollard, Money, 34, 59).

(79) For a general discussion on the financial state of the Vatican during this period, see Klieber, "Efforts and Difficulties"; and Pollard, Money.

(80) Klieber, "Efforts and Difficulties," 288-89. Pollard (Money, 56-58) notes that there is some uncertainty over the exact amount of papal reserves that remained at the end of Pius IX's pontificate and suggests that a decrease in Peter's Pence at the beginning of Leo XIII's reign may have affected Vatican finances more so than a lack of reserves.

(81) "Pope Leo XIII's Jubilee," 1.

(82) Ibid.; "Restoring the Lateran Church," New York Times, December 13, 1903, p. 4.

(83) For general information on the opening of the Vatican Archives and the various research institutes in Rome, see Charles H. Haskins, "The Vatican Archives," The American Historical Review 2, no. 1 (1896): 40-58; Paul Maria Baumgarten, "Roman Historical Institutes," Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 8 (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910), a.htm (accessed November 8, 2009).

(84) Cardauns, Die Gorres-Gesellschaft; Alexander Carlson Merrow, "Clio's Nuncios: The Catholic Historical Discipline in Imperial Germany, 1876-1901," Ph.D. diss., Georgetown University, 2006. Grisar became a member of the Gorres Society in 1900.

(85) As cited by Owen Chadwick, Catholicism and History: The Opening of the Vatican Archives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 103.

(86) Ibid., 103.

(87) Address of 12 December 1904 in Acta Sanctae Sedis. Ephemerides Romanae, vol. 37 (Rome: Typographia Polyglotta S.C. de Propaganda Fide, 1905), 435: "Ne deriva che alcuni dei nostri giovani chierici, animati da questo spirito di critica senza freni che domina oggidi, giungono a perdere ogni rispetto per la scienza derivata dai nostri grandi maestri, dai padri e dottori della Chiesa, interpreti della dottrina rivelata." See also Roger Aubert, "Intervention of Ecclesiastical Authority and the Integralist," in The Church in the Industrial Age, ed. Hubert Jedin and John Dolan, vol. 9 (New York: Crossroad, 1981), 456.

(88) Pius X, E supremi apostolatus in The Papal Encyclicals, vol. 3, 1903-1939, ed. Claudia Ihm Carlen (Wilmington, N.C.: McGrath, 1981), 8, par. 11; see also Schultenover, A View from Rome, 17.

(89) An English translation of the Pascendi dominici gregis is found in The Papal Encyclicals, vol. 3, 71-98.

(90) Ibid., 89-90, par. 39.

(91) Ibid., 94, par. 50.

(92) Ibid., 94-95, par. 52-53.

(93) Ibid., 95, par. 54.

(94) Higgins, "The Papacy," 260.

(95) Schultenover, A View from Rome, 18.

(96) As translated and quoted in David G. Schultenover, "Luis Martin Garcia, the Jesuit General of the Modernist Crisis (1892-1906): On Historic Criticism," Catholic Historical Review 89, no. 3 (2003): 445-46.

(97) Ibid., 448; Hartmann Grisar, "S. Maria ad Praesepe, la Betlemme di Roma; Antichita e significato della denominazione S. Maria ad Praesepe; La stazione del Natale in S. Maria ad Praesepe," La Civilta Cattolica 16, no. 4 (1895): 467-75.

(98) As quoted in Schultenover, "Luis Martin Garcia," 453.

(99) As quoted in Ibid., 453-54.

(100) Ibid., 458.

(101) Ibid., 448-49.

(102) As further expressed in the letter from the Nunciatura Apostolica in Bavaria on September 5, 1905: "Compresi subito che le ragioni addotte per dubitarne erano sofismi pio che ragioni, ed ispirandomi ai gravi motivi, facili a comprendersi, dei segreto gia imposta da S. Santita e confermato dall'E.V., ed avuto riguardo alia spiccata tendenza di critica troppo libera, che e caratteristica del Conferenziere [Grisar], il quale altra fiata, in un altro discorso letto qui, non si tenne nei limiti convenienti, dichairai esser mia fondata opinione che il divieto comprendesse anche il discorso promesso." See ASV, Segreteria di Stato, Anno 1905, Rubrica 255, fasc. 1, number 13411.

(103) Grisar, "Il 'Sancta Sanctorum,'" 730. For Grisar's complete discussion of the gemmed cross and its potential relic, see "Il 'Sancta Sanctorum,'" 718-30. Shortly before his text in La Civilta Cattolica, Grisar published another article that focused on the history of the relic of the circumcised foreskin of Christ; see "Die angebliche Christusreliquie," 109-22.

(104) For the general history of the journal, see Giuseppe De Rosa, S.J., La Civilta Cattolica. 150 anni al servizio della Chiesa. 1850-1999 (Rome: La Civilta Cattolica, 1999).

(105) Schultenover, "Luis Martin Garcia," 461; Susan Zuccotti, Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2001), 11.

(106) De Rosa, La Civilta Cattolica, 28.

(107) I would like to thank Catherine Granger and Jamie Hazlitt for information on the Revue de l'art ancien et moderne; see information on the journal at (accessed July 9, 2009).

(108) The Ecole Francaise de Rome, where Lauer was a fellow, also came under the direction of the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. See Haskins, "The Vatican Archives," 50.

(109) Grisar, "Die lateranische Palastkapelle," 21.

(110) Ibid., 22.

(111) Grisar, "Il 'Sancta Sanctorum,'" 513-14. In his 1906 articles, Grisar mentions Lauer only in relation to the French scholar's work on the environment below the Sancta Sanctorum (as published in Lauer, "Les Fouilles"); see Grisar, "L'oratorio di S. Lorenzo," 674.

(112) Grisar, Il Sancta Sanctorum, 3. See also Grisar's overall introduction (1-15).

(113) Grisar, however, does not give specific citations of these articles (ibid., 6). For a description and transcription of his September 26 lecture in Bonn for the Gorres Society, see "Die lateranische Palastkapelle der mittelalterlichen Papste und ihr neuerschlossener Schatz," Kolnische Volkzeitung, October 26, 1907, n. 917. See, also, the descriptions of an archaeological meeting held in December 1906 at which Grisar publicized his 1905 finds in "Conferenze di archeologia cristiana," Corriere d'Italia, January 2, 1907 and "Conferenze di archeologia cristiana," Corriere d'Italia, January 18, 1907. The finds were announced in the United States in James M. Paton, "Archaeological News. Notes on Recent Excavations and Discoveries; Other News," American Journal of Archaeology 11, no. 1 (1907): 123.

(114) Grisar references Jubaru's article in Etudes 104 (1905): 721-31 ; see Il Sancta Sanctorum, 8-9.

(115) Grisar, Il Sancta Sanctorum, 11.

(116) See Lauer, "Notice sur le tresor," 191 and "Le tresor," 9-10.

Kirstin Noreen is Professor of Art History at Loyola Marymount University.

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