Vatican to Return Three Pre-Columbian Mummies to Peru

According to Vatican News, the Vatican Museums will study the skeletal remains to determine their period of origin.

(photo: Vatican Media / VM)

The Vatican on Monday returned three pre-Columbian mummies to Peru, which had been loaned for the 1925 Universal Vatican Exposition and have since been kept in its Anima Mundi Ethnological Museum.

The repatriation of the remains was made official through the signing of an agreement Oct. 17 by the president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, Cardinal Fernando Vergéz, and the minister of foreign affairs of Peru, César Landa.

“Thanks to the good disposition of the Vatican and Pope Francis, it has been possible to carry out the return, as is appropriate. I came to sign that document. In the coming weeks they will arrive in Lima,” the Peruvian foreign minister told the local press.

According to Vatican News, the Vatican Museums will study the skeletal remains to determine their period of origin. 

The mummies were found at an altitude of 9,800 feet in the Peruvian Andes.

En la ceremonia desarrollada en las intalaciones del Museo Etnológico Vaticano, el Canciller ratificó el compromiso de nuestro país con la protección del patrimonio cultural en todas sus formas.
(Fotos: Vatican Media)

— Cancillería Perú🇵🇪 (@CancilleriaPeru) October 17, 2022

“The feeling shared with Pope Francis is that these mummies, more than objects, are human beings. Human remains that must be buried with dignity in the place where they come from, that is, in Peru,”Landa said.

At the Vatican, the Peruvian foreign minister met with Pope Francis and then with Secretary of State of the Holy See Cardinal Pietro Parolin and with Cardinal Paul Richard Gallagher, the secretary for relations with states.

The Anima Mundi Ethnological Museum has more than 80,000 objects and works of art.

According to the museum’s website, the collection holds “thousands of prehistoric artifacts from all over the world and dating from over two million years ago, to the gifts given to the current pontiff; from evidence of the great Asian spiritual traditions, to those of the pre-Columbian and Islamic civilizations; from the work of African populations to that of the inhabitants of Oceania and Australia, and the indigenous peoples of America.”