The three fragments of the Parthenon that had been preserved for more than two centuries in the Vatican Museums were brought to Athens and its Acropolis Museum and then presented in a ceremony on Friday 24. Following his apostolic journey to Cyprus and Greece in December 2021, Pope Francis wished to donate the three fragments of the Parthenon to the Archbishop of the Orthodox Church of Athens, His Beatitude Ieronymos II.
His Beatitude Ieronymos II presided over the donation ceremony, which was attended by a Vatican Delegation that included Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity; Archbishop Jan Romeo Pawłowski, Apostolic Nuncio to Greece; Prof. Barbara Jatta, Director of the Vatican Museums; and Msgr. Andrea Palmieri, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity.
In his address on the occasion, His Beatitude Ieronymos II, expressed his great joy and gratitude for the reunification of the three fragments of the Parthenon from the Vatican Museums with the Parthenon architectural sculptures in the Acropolis Museum. He said that this initiative of Pope Francis in donating the fragments has "historic importance, with multiple positive repercussions on several levels." First, His Beatitude noted, it shows the "tangible proof of the fruits produced by the fraternal relations that exist among us Christians, guided by truth, love, mutual respect and understanding." It shows our world today, marked by injustice, that solutions to our problems are possible when there is good will and a sincere desire to resolve them. Second, he recalled how "truth is restored" and wounds of the past are healed with this reunification of inseparable parts of this special monument of the world's cultural heritage. He concluded by expressing his hope that this gesture of Pope Francis might be imitated by others. He thanked all those who contributed to making this celebration possible.
Addressing those present, Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, said that the gift of the fragments marks "an ecclesial, cultural and social gesture of friendship and solidarity with the people of Greece." He recalled the origin of Pope Francis' desire to make this gesture and how it affirms "ever more strongly the friendship and spiritual closeness between our Churches" and conveyed the Pope's warmest greetings and prayerful good wishes to His Beatitude and the entire body of the Church of Greece. He added that "people of goodwill can see in this event the expression of a shared hope that our diverse cultures, and art itself, will always be a privileged means of dialogue and encounter among peoples. In that exchange, we enrich each other, in the wonderful diversity of our histories, our achievements and the universal aspiration to peace and fraternity." In conclusion, he expressed the hope that "from the encounter between peoples and their cultures – of which the homecoming of the Parthenon fragments is one eloquent sign - will spring the understanding and solidarity that leads to peace."