The leader of the Catholic Church worldwide will send back three fragments of the Parthenon Sculptures that the Vatican has held for centuries.
In what is being branded as an ‘ecumenical nod’, the Vatican said it was a “donation” from Pope Francis to the Orthodox Christian archbishop of Athens and Greece, His Beatitude Ieronymos II.
The Vatican said it was “a concrete sign” of the Pontiff’s “sincere desire to follow in the ecumenical path of truth”.
According to the Vatican Museums’ website, one fragment depicts the head of the horse that was pulling Athena's chariot. The other fragments show the head of a boy and the head of a bearded male.
The Vatican’s decision comes amid calls for the British Museum in London to return its Parthenon collection after it was reported the museum’s chairman had held secret talks with Greece’s prime minister over the return of the items, commonly known as the Elgin Marbles.
Greece’s Culture Ministry, Lina Mendoni welcomed the news and thanked Pope Francis for his “generous decision”.