Explore the Mysteries and Legends of the Vatican in Rome, Italy

Mystery, Conspiracy, Legends

The Vatican, Rome’s Most Protected Mystery

Throughout history, the Vatican has been anything but immune from speculation of conspiracy, mystery and legends. Some as widely varied as extraterrestrial life and the Second Coming, and it all leads to The Vatican Secret Archives. The Fairytale Traveler has not yet been to Rome but we’ve done our share of research and could hardly wait to share with you what we learned from Dark Rome Tours.

St-Peters-Square-Bernini-ColumnsThe Vatican Secret Archives

The archives were officially divided in the mid-17th century from the Vatican Library and serves as the fountain of seemingly forbidden knowledge from which many conspiracy theories have sprung. After hundreds of years of being completely closed to all but church scholars, the twelve-plus centuries of historical documents preserved in more than 52 linear miles of shelves at the Archives are now open to outsiders for research. Unfortunately, academics must know in advance what they wish to study because browsing the Archives is strictly prohibited. This injunction enhances speculation that there are many secrets hidden within the Archives even though the word “secret” isn’t used in the name to assert a clandestine meaning but instead simply means “private.” The Archives are often referred to as the Pope’s personal library.

The roof of the tiny Niccoline Chapel - not usually open to the public

The roof of the tiny Niccoline Chapel – not usually open to the public

The Third Secret of Fátima

There is significant conjecture that the text of the controversial Third Secret of Fátima is one of the many mysteries still hidden by the Vatican. In 1917, three Portuguese shepherd children reported receiving a trio of ominous and enigmatic prophecies following multiple visions of the Virgin Mary culminating in an apparition observed by tens of thousands of witnesses amassed at the site. Suppression of the mysterious last, and purportedly apocalyptic, Third Secret by the Church in 1960 fueled rampant speculation with theories regarding the real contents ranging from apostasy of the papacy to nuclear holocaust and natural disasters to usher in the Apocalypse. The Vatican’s long-awaited release of the Third Secret in the year 2000 did little to quell conspiracy theories or their proponents due to the anticlimactic and relatively unremarkable nature of the revelation made at that time. Many people still think that the information finally put forth was either falsified or incomplete.
St. Peter in his namesake Basilica

St. Peter in his namesake Basilica

Extraterrestrials

Amazingly, less controversial claims include possible evidence of the existence of extraterrestrials. In fact, in 2008, more than one prominent scientific advisor to the Pope acknowledged the possibility of alien life and speculated that otherworldly beings would likewise be part of creation and consequently not conflict with church doctrine. The Vatican Observatory even co-hosted an astrobiology conference shortly afterwards in 2009. Church theologians also announced that non-earthly life forms should not be confused with demons, and abductions or encounters are not the same as demonic possessions. Another even suggested that the Immaculate Conception, Virgin Birth, and Resurrection could conceivably have involved extraterrestrial forces.
A tapestry of da Vinci's Last Supper, created by Raphael and his pupils in the Pinacoteca

A tapestry of da Vinci’s Last Supper, created by Raphael and his pupils in the Pinacoteca

Time Travel

Time travel is yet another frequent, but controversial, topic for alleged Vatican secrets. It is said that plans for a time machine, evidence of time travel, or even a working time-travelling device could be tucked away securely in the depths of Vatican vaults. Other concealed proof may include confirmation of or scientific documentation about the existence of voyagers from other eras.

The Niccoline Chapel is decorated with the first gold brought from the New World by Christopher Columbus

The Niccoline Chapel is decorated with the first gold brought from the New World by Christopher Columbus

Disclosure of Biblical Relics

Other Vatican conspiracy theories include rumored documentation of the existence or physical locations of biblical relics, including the Ark of the Covenant, Noah’s ark, and the Holy Grail. The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in 2013 fueled conjecture of Vatican links to the Illuminati or other clandestine groups. Stigmata and the Shroud of Turin are further mysteries yet to be unraveled by scientists and scholars. Another claim hypothesizes actual portraits and contemporary documentation of details of the life of Jesus along with his bloodline. Alternatively, some imagine that evidence is being hidden from the public that Jesus definitively did not exist.

Unfortunately, a visit to the Pope’s private library is likely to prove impossible while touring the Vatican during a vacation in Rome. Only qualified scholars are currently admitted to the Archives, but there are many other fascinating and enigmatic sites to explore in Vatican City and beyond that are more than worthy of a Dan Brown novel or Indiana Jones movie.

If you’re thinking of taking a trip to Rome to explore the Vatican, I can highly recommend a tour with Dark Rome.


About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Senior Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. Christa has been traveling the world since 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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