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World News

Vatican worker arrested in sting operation after allegedly trying to sell stolen manuscript

by Lydia Davies

The Vatican has confirmed that a former worker has been arrested for allegedly attempting to sell a manuscript from St Peter’s Basilica's archives.

Alfio Maria Daniele Pergolizzi was identified as the suspect, as initially reported by the Italian newspaper Domani.

Accoridng to the newspaper, Pergolizzi met with Italian Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, and offered to sell the manuscript: Gambetti reportedly gave Pergolizzi a cheque for roughly $130,000 (£101,569) in exchange for the item, only for Pergolizzi and his companion to be detained shortly afterwards.

The manuscript in question was described in official reports as "...prepared by the school of artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, describing the gold necessary to decorate the famed Baldacchino". 

Vatican News reported that the accused is currently in custody at the offices of the Gendarmes of the Vatican City State. He was interrogated and next week the promoter of justice is due to make a decision regarding an indictment.

Criticism has been levelled at the methods used by Alessandro Diddi, Vatican’s promoter of justice. The Faro di Roma news site expressed disapproval on the sting: “Clearly, this is an investigation based on a trap set for a former employee... Nevertheless, it’s stupefying that this kind of logic is followed within the Vatican State.”

Pergolizzi defended himself by claiming he had received the manuscript from Italian Monsignor Vittorino Canciani, indicating it was part of a private collection rather than stolen from the basilica archives.

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