Archaeology, blog, Israel, z315
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Does the Vatican have sacred items looted from the Jewish Temple in 70 AD?

The Arch of Titus in Rome, showing items looted from the looting of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD. This included a prominent carving of the Jewish Menorah.
Credit: Laurel Lodged/Wikipedia/Public Domain

I have to admit this is a strange story, but who doesn’t enjoy a good conspiracy theory from time to time.

According to an article on Israel365 News, several allege that the Vatican has some sacred artifacts in its possession, taken from the Second Jewish Temple, when Rome sacked Jerusalem and completely obliterated the Temple in 70 AD.

In his article, Adam Berkowitz admits this claim is based on rumours, that have been circulating for years. But nevertheless, he cites The A.R.K Report a book written by Rabbi Moskoff that suggests the Vatican has the golden menorah (seven stick candelabra) and as well other temple items such as shofars and even the High Priest’s crown.

The rumour is based on a couple of historical facts and lots of innuendo.

First, the Arch of Titus, that was constructed by the Roman Emperor Domitian to commemorate the sacking of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD by his brother, has images of items looted from the Temple. The most prominent of these is a carving of the Menorah.

The ancient Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus (37 – 100 AD), also stated that Rome had seized several Jewish artifacts from the Jewish temple. He added that they were eventually placed in Vespasian’s Temple of Peace that was dedicated to Pas, the Roman goddess of peace. The construction of the pagan temple was completed in 75 AD.

However, the Vespasian temple was destroyed by fire in 192. Though rebuilt, it was later looted and destroyed by the Visigoths in 455 AD and never rebuilt.

It would seem that if the Jewish artifacts were not destroyed in the fire, they were probably taken by the Visigoths.

So how come there are rumours circulating that the Vatican has these Jewish artifacts?

Berkowitz writes that the Vatican was built on top of the palace used by the Roman emperors and since there is no mention of the Visigoths taking the menorah, some speculate that it, along with other sacred items, were hidden in the tunnels below the palace.

Thought the Vatican denies that it has these Jewish artifacts, each year it receives hundreds of requests for these artifacts to be returned to Israel. In 2004, the Vatican gave Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) permission to search its archives for the items, but found nothing.

But adding to the mystery, Berkowitz notes that there have been several occasions when the issue was brought up with Vatican officials who at times seemed less than forthright about the issue.

READ: Is the Vatican supporting Palestinians in order to keep Temple Treasures?

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