Mexico asks Pope to lend old books kept in Vatican library

By David Alire Garcia

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The Mexican government has officially asked Pope Francis for the temporary return of several ancient indigenous manuscripts held in the Vatican library ahead of the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Mexico next year.

The request for the texts to be exhibited in Mexico was made in a two-page letter to Pope Francis and posted on President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s Twitter page on Saturday, but dated October 2.

It was handed over to the Pope by Lopez Obrador’s wife Beatriz Gutierrez Muller, who met him at the Vatican following a meeting she had with Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Friday.

One of the three codicies, or books, requested is the Codex Borgia, a particularly colorful silkscreened book spread over dozens of pages that depicts the gods and rituals of ancient central Mexico.

It is one of the best-preserved examples of pre-conquest Aztec-style writing that exists, after the Catholic authorities of Mexico during colonial times rejected codecs such as Devil’s Work and ordered that hundreds, if not thousands of them were burned in the decades that followed. the conquest of 1521.

In the letter, Lopez Obrador asks the Vatican to return the Codex Borgia, two other ancient codicies as well as his maps of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan for a one-year loan in 2021.

The nationalist president is planning a series of events to commemorate the anniversary next year. He also reiterated his demand that the Catholic Church, as well as the reigning King of Spain Philip VI, apologize for the atrocities committed following the conquest of Mexico, which Lopez Obrador said would mark an “act of historical contrition “.

The Vatican has not yet responded to the request, but its museums and archives have in the past loaned various manuscripts and works of art after similar requests from other countries.

(Reporting by David Alire Garcia in Mexico; Additional reporting by Philip Pullella in Rome; Editing by Chris Reese)

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