Interview with mons. Sergio Pagano

ISBN: 9788828213291
publisher: Solferino
year: 2024
pages: 448 | 16 pp ill. plates


Popes, wars, spies: the mysteries of the Vatican Archives unveiled by the Prefect who has led it for a quarter century.

A treasure trove of information, stories, gossip and pleases: this is “the bunker” for everyone in the Vatican, the 86 linear kilometer-long underground repository that houses millions of the most confidential documents, accumulated and kept on its premises since its founding in 1611.

For the first time, a clergyman with a unique and very sensitive role, Monsignor Sergio Pagano, “prefetto” since 1997 of the Vatican Secret Archives (renamed Apostolic Archives from pope Francis in 2019), agrees to open under his direct supervision the doors of the vaults to a journalist. The bishop is one of the least known and yet most powerful and respected figures in the Vatican and has an in-depth knowledge of the truths and mysteries of what has been called “the intelligence powerhouse of Europe.”

This secretive and cultured man  (elevated by Benedict XVI to the titular episcopal see of Celene) reveals in a book interview with Massimo Franco some of the bunker’s secrets, to divulge and shed light on some of the extraordinary stories kept, almost imprisoned in those cardboard containers; to share his beloved studies.

What emerges is a novel and disorienting rereading of some key moments of history: From the papers of Galileo’s trial to Pius XII’s silences on the Shoah – crucial issues that Pagano was tasked with studying and making public. And then there is the raid of the Vatican Archives by Napoleon’s troops, who transferred them to Paris; and the role the United States of America and its dollars played in past conclaves, to the troubled relationship between the Holy See and Communist China. These are just some of the “nuggets” of truths that emerge from this mine of anecdotes, entanglements, and sometimes legends that help us learn about the dynamics, as well as the history, of a millennia-old institution.