Parthenon fragments from the Vatican placed in permanent exhibit at Acropolis Museum event
The three fragments include the 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.
These fragments from the metopes, the frieze and the pediments of the Parthenon were gifted personally by Pope Francis to the Archbishop Hieronymos of Athens and All Greece. The agreement to that effect was signed in Rome by Greek and Vatican officials on March 7, as the pieces were being kept at the Vatican Museums.
Attending the event, Culture & Sports Minister Lina Mendoni said that "the Pontiff's gesture comes to the aid of the Greek people's fair and moral demand - but also to the diligent effort of the Greek government and personally of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis - for the definitive return and reunification of all the Parthenon Marbles in Athens," referring to marbles kept at the British Museum in London.
Mendoni also relayed the Greek premier's warm thanks, who was scheduled to attend but was delayed due to the ongoing European Council meeting in Brussels.
Pope Francis' gesture "is of historical significance and has very positive ramifications on multiple levels," noted Archbishop Hieronymos.
Also welcoming the gift was Acropolis Museum Director Nicolas Stampolidis, who noted that the gift of the fragments, "which until the beginning of March were being exhibited in the Vatican for more than 200 years, carries both a substantial as well as a symbolic character."
Four members of a Catholic delegation from the Vatican who arrived in Athens on Thursday also attended. The delegation included its head, Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, Under-Secretary Monsignor Andrea Palmieri, Director of the Vatican Museums Dr Barbara Jatta, and Archbishop Jan Romeo Pawłowski, Apostolic Nuncio to Greece.
Bishop Farrell spoke about the importance of the Pope's gesture, an "ecclesiastical, cultural and social gesture of friendship and solidarity with the people of Greece", which he noted "confirms even more strongly the friendship and the spiritual closeness between our Churches."