The historical donation ceremony of the three fragments of the Parthenon, which until now were in the Vatican Museums, took place today at noon in the Holy See.

The fragmentstwo male heads and a horse head, will be sent to the Acropolis Museum tomorrow, following Pope Francis’ personal decision to return the antiquities.

In particular, the first fragment returned is a head of a teenager, the second belongs to one of the horses of Athena’s quadruped, and the third is a bearded male head, which belongs to the south metope, where the Centauromachy was depicted.

The Greek government, at today’s ceremony, was represented by the Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni and the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos, the Most Reverend Protopresbyter Fr. Emmanuel Papamikroulis.

Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, in her statement to APE-MPE, underlined that “with a particularly generous gesture and a sign of spiritual and friendly relationship between the Orthodox and the Catholic Church, Pope Francis offered Archbishop Hieronymos these three fragments, in order to be reunited with the sculptures on display in the Acropolis museum.”

“This moment is truly historic: for Greece, for the Vatican and the international archaeological community, but I think it is also a very big message of dialogue, reconciliation and peace. We feel grateful for this gesture, in this difficult moment that the Greek people are experiencing, after the terrible tragedy in Tempi. We are grateful because both the pope and the Catholic Church have united their prayers for the children who were lost, but also for the support of their families,” the minister added.

The president of the government of the Vatican State, cardinal Fernando Vergeth Alzaga, underlined that “it is another sign of friendship and the will to continue on the path of ecumenical dialogue, which the pope clearly expressed with his donation”.

His Eminence Chief Elder Father Emmanuel Papamikroulis told APE-MPE that “he participated, today, as a representative of Archbishop Hieronymos, in a truly historic moment”.

“A very important step was taken and a historical dimension was given to this event, as, through this initiative of Pope Francis, on the one hand, some of the marbles that were missing from the Parthenon are reunited (and partially healed, wounds and traumas of the past) and on the other hand, it proves that when Christians work together, they can bring results and provide, together, practical solutions to chronic problems and historical outstandings”, said His Holiness.

And the director of the Acropolis Museum, Professor Nikolaos Stampolidisin his statement to APE-MPE he emphasized:

“Through the joy that governs me, I want to say a heartfelt thank you, for the generosity of the Pope and the Catholic Church to return these three sculptures from the metope, frieze and pediment of the Parthenon, in Athens, to the museum of Acropolis, so that they can be reunited forever, with the monument to which they belong. The Parthenon is the ecumenical monument, not only for Greece, but for the whole of humanity and the act of the pope shows that one must indeed walk in the ecumenical truth of unity and therefore, in this sense, with reference to world monument, which is the Parthenon”.

Responding to APE-MPE’s question if this is also a message to other directions, to undertake similar initiatives, for the reunification of the Parthenon, Mr. Stampolidis replied that “the arrival of the fragment from Palermo, Sicily has already taken place” and that “these three from the Vatican are added to this and efforts are being made, continuously, for the remaining pieces as well”.

“Because the British people have already expressed themselves with 78% of the exit polls, according to the Sunday Times, at some point, and the decision-makers, our British friends will understand that what unites the whole of Western civilization, democracy and the monument itself , is that all these sculptures must return to their home,” the director of the Acropolis museum told APE-MPE.