U.S. Returns Stolen Christopher Columbus Letter To Vatican Library

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The U.S. on Thursday returned a stolen copy of a 500-year-old letter by Italian explorer Christopher Columbus about his discovery of America to the Vatican Library.

The U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Callista Gingrich, handed over the manuscript to Vatican Library officials, a Vatican spokesman confirmed to dpa.

The letter is one of several original Latin translations of the 1493 report Columbus wrote to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, who had financed his voyage.

According to a statement by the U.S. embassy, the Vatican acquired the letter in the 1920s, but seven years ago, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security received a tip that the document had been replaced by a fake.

The Vatican was notified of the forgery and confirmed by experts, while the original was traced to an actuary from the southern U.S. city of Atlanta, Robert Parsons.

Parsons said he bought the letter from a rare book dealer in New York in 2004, unaware of its stolen status.

After his death, his widow agreed to return the manuscript.

The U.S. embassy said two more stolen Latin copies of the Columbus letter were recovered by US authorities in recent years.

They were returned to libraries in Florence, Italy, and Barcelona, Spain.

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