The U.S. ambassador to the Vatican returned a letter written by Christopher Columbus after it was stolen and replaced with a forgery, officials said.
“The Columbus Letter, as it is known, is an account of the explorer’s discovery of America written in 1493 to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain,” according to a press release from the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.
The letter was translated into Latin and several copies were distributed throughout Europe, the embassy said. The letter was stolen from the Vatican Library and sold in 2004, according to the Department of Justice.
After the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Homeland Security Investigations discovered the copy held in the Vatican was a fake, they contacted a man named Robert Parsons who purchased a copy of the original letter in 2004, the release said.
Parsons’ widow, Mary Parsons, decided to return the letter to the Vatican and relinquish her rights to it, according to a press release.
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Callista L Gingrich, delivered the letter Vatican’s Archivist and Librarian, Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès and the Library’s Prefect, Bishop Cesare Pasini.
“The Columbus Letter, written in 1493, is a priceless piece of cultural history. I am honored to return this remarkable letter to the Vatican Library – its rightful owner," Ambassador Gingrich said.