Τhree marble fragments of the Parthenon temple kept at the Vatican Museums were presented to Greece as a gift for the Acropolis Museum at a ceremony in the Holy See on Tuesday.
The gift is a personal decision by Pope Francis to Archbishop Hieronymos of Athens and All Greece.
Τhe three marble fragments from the Parthenon temple are part of the head of a youth, one of the two horses pulling the goddess Athena’s chariot, and a male figure with a beard that belongs to a southern metope, where the Centauromachy is depicted.
The fragments made of marble from Mt Penteli are part of the decorative sculpture of the Parthenon, the temple built on the Acropolis at Athens by Pericles (447-432 B.C.).
The figurative decoration of the temple is the creative of the Athenian sculptor, Phidias.
They came to Vatican in the 19th century. Their return to Greece was announced in December 2022.
Culture & Sports Minister Lina Mendoni represented the Greek government, while Reverend Emmanouil Papamikroulis represented the archbishop. The Holy See and Pope Francis were represented by President of the Governorate of Vatican City State Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga.
Minister Mendoni told news agency amna, that this is “an especially generous gesture and an example of spiritual and brotherly relationship between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.”
The Pope had called the Greek minister directly about his decision to return the three Parthenon fragments and asked her to take care of the process, while he also notified Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, said Cardinal Fernando Vérgez
His Holiness, he said, “confirmed his friendship with the Greek Orthodox Church of Greece, with the intention that the steps of progress continue and that cultural exchanges with the Vatican Museums also continue.”
Reverend Papamikroulis said that the gesture partly heals some past hurts and injuries. “When Christians collaborate, they can bring results and together provide practical solutions to long-term and historically unresolved issues,” he noted.