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Mysterious Spots On Secret Vatican Document Decoded

After years of speculation, scientists have finally found an explanation for one of the Vatican's great mysteries.

This mystery surrounds the deterioration of the Vatican’s ancient manuscripts. The key to this discovery was in Loricatus’ scroll – a five-meter-long piece of parchment that was made from goat skin more than 800 years ago.

Loricatus’ scroll details the life of Laurentius Loricatus – a teenage soldier who, after accidentally murdering another man, lived a life of penance and self-flagellation in the secluded ruins of an Italian monastery. During this period of atonement, Loricatus chose to torment himself, burning his face with a hot brand and wearing a coat of hooked chain mail directly on his skin.

After 34 years of isolation, Loricatus died and the local population began working on the Loricatus scroll – a manuscript that describes the deeds of Loricatus and argues for his immediate canonization – and sent it to Rome where it was stored in the Vatican Secret Archives. Five centuries later, the Vatican announced that Loricatus, now known as Loricatus the Blessed, would be beatified.

The contents of the Vatican Secret Archives are preserved with the utmost care and attention. The temperature and humidity of each room is carefully regulated to preserve the state of ancient parchment scrolls and manuscripts. Despite these precautions, caretakers noticed purple spots appearing on Loricatus’ scroll. On other ancient documents, similar purple blemishes have appeared just before rapid inscription and layer deterioration.

Now, scientists have finally identified the source of the destructive purple spots. Luciana Migliore, an ecotoxicologist working at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, made the first breakthrough after her students detected the presence of halobacteria and gammaproteobacterial on the parchment.

Further genetic analysis of the bacteria communities in the purple spot led Migliore to conclude that halobacteria microbial communities were responsible for the damage to the scroll. "The microbial succession we hypothesized on the base of metagenomic, chemical and physical analyses support the idea that halobacteria are the responsible [party]. Research work is ongoing, to demonstrate the model on different documents of different historical periods," Migliore excitedly explained. "The type of damage on this document is the same as in the great majority of the damaged ancient parchments. Hence we suppose that the dynamics of the attack are always the same."

When Migliore received the results of her first genetic tests, she was skeptical that halobacteria – a bacterial community that is usually found in marine environments – was the cause of the purple spots. In an interview with Fox News, Migliore clarified her skepticism, saying: “When my students came to me, saying, 'Luciana, we found marine bacteria,' I told them, 'Repeat, please; there is a mistake. There must be a mistake!'"

The purple dots on the Loricatus scroll have rendered the first and last pages indecipherable and the microbes may be slowly spreading along the margins of other pages. Migliore is currently working to mitigate the impact of the salt-loving microbial communities, adding: "In this way, this work opens new perspectives, because we have to study to see if it is possible to make something of this parchment."

Source: Fox News
Photo: YouTube

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