New Library acquisition: Distinta relatione delle cerimonie fatte in Roma...

Author: Tracy Bergstrom

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has recently acquired the following item: 

Pietro Leone. Distinta relatione delle cerimonie fatte in Roma nell'aprire le Porte Sante delle quattro principali Basiliche per l'anno corrente del giubileo, e particolarmente di quella di S. Pietro in Vaticano… Rome and Bologna: Per l'erede del Benacci, 1700.


This rare pamphlet describes the opening of the Holy Doors of the four papal basilicas of Rome in a ceremony that marked the launch of the Jubilee year of 1700.  The ritual unwalling of the doors constitutes one of the most significant moments of the Jubilee: the Pope pounds on the door with a silver hammer to dislodge its concrete sealant, thereby allowing throngs of pilgrims to enter.

Tradition dictates that the doors of St. Peter’s be opened by the Pope himself, but in this instance the poor health of Innocent XII necessitated that the task be bestowed upon Cardinal Emanuele Teodosio di Buglione.  Leone documents the order of the day’s events, the ‘infinite number of people’ waiting to enter, and the special observers and dignitaries in attendance.   A short portion of the text also describes the proceedings at the three other basilicas: S. Giovanni in Laterano, S. Maria Maggiore, and S. Paolo fuori le Mura.

This copy is only the second available within the United States, with one other copy present at the Getty Research Institute.