In the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Convocation of the Second Vatican Council, the Vatican Secret Archives reveal the key document of that memorable event. The number V of the Exemplaria Praetiosa Archivi Secreti Vaticani presents and also offers in facsimile (as is the Exemplaria series’ usual practice) Humanae Salutis, the famous Bull convening the Council.
The document was prepared with confident and fervent heart by the unforgettable Pope John XXIII, signed by him with all due solemnity on the morning of Christmas 1961, then disseminated to the whole Catholic church and the world.
Scrinium and the Vatican Archives agreed upon the importance of making available a most accurate replica of the Bull that convoked a Council whose fruits illuminated the Church and the world – the precious documents, known to all, that have played and are still playing so great a part in the life of the Church. Yet if readers look at the perspective taken by the editor of this work, H.E. Mgr. Sergio Pagano, Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, they will see that (as is the case of other documents of Pope John’s) the documentary research underlying the production of the final text of the Bull evinces the same pastoral intent,
the great soul of Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, who wanted to expand the richness of the Christian message, almost a new evangelization, to the most recondite corners of the consciences and intelligence of modern men – or, rather, the Pope’s own contemporaries – and their changing civilization. The precise critical apparatus that Mgr. Pagano used as the basis for his edition of the drafts of the Bull shows the labor limae performed on the document by John XXIII and his closest collaborators, of whom the outstanding figures were Mgr. Pericle Felici, Secretary of the Council, and Mgr. Loris Capovilla, the pope’s personal secretary. In this way, we enter the “backstage” of the Bull and can observe the stages it went through: outline, growth, modification, adaptation to John’s thought, up to the final clean rendition.
While I congratulate the Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives on this recent labor of his, I hope that this special edition distributed by Scrinium of Venice, like its predecessors, will be greeted with favour, especially in the Catholic world, both ecclesiastical and lay, and, thanks in good part to the facsimile document’s aesthetic beauty, will faithfully preserve the memory of the Council, helping us still today to understand and live our present in the Catholic Church.