Three fragments of Athens’ Parthenon temple, kept by the Vatican for centuries, were returned to Greece on Friday in what Pope Francis has called a gesture of friendship, Report informs via France 24.
“The gifting of the fragments of the Parthenon, which have been held in the Vatican Museums for more than two centuries, shows itself as an ecclesial, cultural and social gesture of friendship and solidarity with the people of Greece,” Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary for promoting Christian unity, told a ceremony at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.
The marble fragments from the Parthenon, one of the marvels of the ancient world, include the head of a horse, one of the four horses drawing Athena’s mythical chariot, according to the Vatican Museums website.
It comes from the west front of the building, on which Athena and Poseidon — the god of the sea — were shown competing for dominion over the city.
The second is the head of a young boy, believed to be depicted carrying a tray of votive cakes, which were offered during a procession to commemorate the founding of Athens.
The last is a bearded male head from an area of the building featuring a battle between the Lapiths, a mythical group of people, and Centaurs — creatures part horse, part man.
They had been held for centuries in the papal collection and Vatican Museums.