Pope Francis will return three fragments of the Parthenon sculptures kept in the Vatican Museums as a “donation” to the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Jerome II.
Three fragments consist of the heads of a boy, a bearded man and a horse. The Vatican report says that the Pope, “as a concrete sign of his sincere desire to follow the ecumenical path of truth”, decided to make a “donation” to His Beatitude Jerome II, Orthodox Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, three fragments that have been preserved for centuries with great care in papal collections and in the Vatican Museums, and have been displayed to millions of visitors.”
Three fragments of Pentelic marble, found in the Vatican in the 19th century, are part of the decorative friezes of the Parthenon, a temple built on the Acropolis in Athens by Pericles (447-432 BC). Figured decoration of the temple – the creation of the Athenian sculptor Phidias.
The horse’s head comes from the western façade of the building, which depicts Athena and Poseidon vying for dominance of Attica. This fragment has been identified as the fourth horse pulling Athena’s chariot.
The relief with the head of a boy has been identified as one of the figures from the frieze encircling the cella of the temple: he carries a tray of cakes that were offered during the Panathenaic procession in honor of Athena.
The bearded male head was attributed to one of the metopes on the south side of the building, where the battle between the Lapits and centaurs took place.