March 2, 2012. (Romreports.com) Each one of these documents tells a unique story. Behind this seal, slab of wood or even this drawing there's intriguing history. All of these treasure are stored here, in the archive of Propaganda Fide, the most important file on evangelization.
“It includes 12,500 volumes with an average of 800 or 900 documents per volume. So, I would estimate around 10 or 11 million documents. It includes all types of languages. Also many Oriental languages like Arabic, Coptic, Armenian, and Tibetan. The documents are written on plain paper, rice paper, palm leaves, white silk, red silk, and even parchment, which is animal skin, in this case, goat, lamb and small cows,” said Luis Cuña Ramos, the archivist of Propaganda Fide.
Propaganda Fide is the Vatican department that's in charge of missions. In its headquarters it stores all the documents that were kept and sent by missionaries to Rome from 1622 to 1959.
Msgr. Luis Cuña Ramos Archivist, Archives of Propaganda Fide “We have letters that were written by nuncios, bishops, missionaries, and also the replies to those letters. It spans through countries throughout Asia, Africa, Oceania, America, Canada, Northern Europe and Eastern Europe.”
The writings are not always on paper. Some are also kept on objects. This hand carved wooden slab has an inscription in Arabic and it was actually used to print the first Bible in Arabic and Latin. This letter is etched in red silk. In it, Catholics from a parish in China directly address the Pope and ask for their former pastor to return to their church. Then, there's this jade seal which holds a unique registration.
Msgr. Luis Cuña Ramos Archivist, Archives of Propaganda Fide “The seal was used by the emperor to sign the death sentence of several Christians. It was preserved by Christians of the court as a relic and it was later given to John Paul II. The seal has the famous words of Tertullian: 'Blood of martyrs, the seed of Christians.'”
They're described as much more than just documents. They are stories and items that have made their way to Rome, after the Gospel took them all over the world.