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♦ — His Holiness lately was induced to permit the sale of thirty-three porcelain plates, most of them broken, which lay in a press in the ponfcificiai villa, at Castel Gandollo, near Albano. A dealer in antiquities, named Giacomini, employed a person named Sabatucci to go to the Vatican and represent to the Pope that • the plates in question were not sufficient to form a collection. They were in danger L of further d image, and it would be better ’ to accept for them 22,000 francs. Leo XIII. consented in a weak moment to this proposal, and Cardinal Kina consigned the plates to Giacomini and his partner, who paid 22,000 francs to the Vatican and 3,000 francs to the gobetween who had managed the affair. The next day Giacomini sold the plates to the Duke della Verdura, a senator of the Kingdom of Italy, and in another day or two Giacomini offered the Duke 50,000 francs if he would re-sell the plates. Castellani, another dealer in antiquities, offered a large sum, and when disappointed, began to talk of the violation of the statute, which forbids the sale of national property. The Italian Government now stepped in and claimed the property as belonging to the State. By the law of G uarantees the Vatican palace and the villa of Castel Gandolfo, with the collections of art and antiquities therein, are formally declared to be national property and inalienable. Consequently the Pope had no right to sell the plates, and all parties concerned in the transaction were liable to prosecution for stealing public property. The plates were seized by the Questura, and the legal tribunals must decide to whom they are to be given, for safe custody in some museum. The Pope offers to buy them back, paying all charges, and to preserve them to the Vatican. But this affair has dispelled all doubts concerning the efficiency of the law of guarantees. The Pope has never consented to that law, nor received a penny of the dotation it assigns him. But 1 he feels now that the law cannot be evaded in that part of it which virtually appropriates for the benefit of the Italian Kingdom the Vatican and pontifical palaces, and the furniture and art treasures therein contained. The plates themselves were once used at the table of the Pontiffs and might be again used for serving the table of Leo XIII., yetdhey jfrethe property of the Italian 'ManjnHv and to King Humbert’s law to w Vatican officials, belongs to dia- <. “ pose of the papal dinner .serviciWnd define its artistic value. It is admitted by popes and councils that the very vessels of the altar may be sold to provide for the wants of the poor. But the Pope, if poor, cannot sell his cracked dishes to replenish his treasury. ' .

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 76, 20 March 1880

Word Count

EXTRAORDINARY DISPUTE. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 76, 20 March 1880