The love letters of the Vatican Library

In 2011, Morley Safer toured the manuscripts of the Vatican Library and found love letters from "smitten school boy" Henry VIII

This week, Scott Pelley reports on the remarkable Pope Francis through interviews with those who know him, including President Barack Obama. The 60 Minutes broadcast has a long history of covering Vatican City, but perhaps one of our favorite chapters is Morley Safer's 2011 segment on the Vatican library -- a vast collection that houses manuscripts from nearly 2,000 years on subjects ranging from music and math to cookbooks and bizarrely enough, romance.

Father Michael Collins, an expert on the library's archives, showed Safer the love letters from King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, the second of his six wives (and later beheaded).

"Henry signs his name with a heart, like a smitten schoolboy," Safer remarked in the 2011 story. What were these love letters doing in the Vatican Library?

Collins told Safer that it's possible the letters were collected to support Henry's request for a divorce from his wife, Catherine of Aragon. However, as history shows, that evidence wasn't convincing: the church refused to permit the divorce. Henry married Anne anyway, broke with Rome, and took control of the Church of England.

"This is one of the moments in the sixteenth century that leads to the fracturing of Christianity and to much of the bloodshed and the wars that especially the later sixteenth century was known for," scholar Christopher Celenza told Safer.

Watch the full story above to see what other historical treasures Safer uncovered in his tour of the Vatican Library.

60rvaticanlibrary1920.jpg
Vatican Library
CBS News


60 Minutes App

New Look. New Season. The 60 Minutes app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch!

More 60 minutes Overtime

Comments