A historical revelation? Papal bull discovered in a former cemetery dated to the 14th century
First discovered in 2021, a Papal Bull dating from the 14th century has been restored and placed on display in the Museum of Arms in Kołobrzeg.
Found by the PARSĘTA Exploration & Search Group two years back, the decree was unearthed in the area of the former cemetery in Budzistowo.
Jan Orliński of PARSĘTA said: “this is the most valuable find we have made in our six years of existence.”
Continuing, Orliński added: “I’ve always been interested in papal bulls and I was intrigued as to why there was nothing like that in Kołobrzeg… When I saw what I had found, I was really excited.”
Immediately recognising what it was, the group handed it over to the Museum of Arms in Kołobrzeg who they had been cooperating with for several years. In turn, it was then sent to a specialist workshop in Kraków to undergo a meticulous conservation process.
It was during this that scientists determined that it dated from the reign of Pope Boniface IX (1350-1404).
Dr Robert Dziemba, the head of the Kołobrzeg History Department, said: “By studying the physio-chemical compositions of the bull, we were able to find it was original. The most important thing for us was the reverse as it contained information as to which Pope issued the decree. Because of this, we now know that it was issued by Pope Boniface IX.”
Dziemba added: “Even the most interesting artefacts take on a different meaning when they are placed in the right historical context. We knew we had made a great discovery, but we wanted to establish its links to Kołobrzeg.”
According to historians, the bull might possibly have been stored in the monastery in Budzistowo.
Composed largely of pure lead, chemical compounds used in its manufacture were traced to Sardinia, Cyprus, Greece and Spain.
However, it is the bull’s possible links to the former monastery in Budzistowo that have intrigued researchers the most. Mentioned in the 18th century chronicles of Johann Friederich Wachsen, it was he who mentioned that in 1397 that Pope Boniface IX issued a letter of indulgence to the Benedictine nuns living there.
With no relic relating to the monastery surviving to this day, Dziemba says that if it is proved that this bull is the same one referenced by Wachsen it would be nothing short of “a historical revelation”.
Usually attached by silk strings, papal bulls were hung on parchment and scrolls on which papal edicts, privileges and indulgences were written as a means of authentication. Also featuring images of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Dziemba speculates that this particular papal bull may have been lost in the 16th century.
“After the 1534 congress in Trzebiatów introduced Lutheranism to Pomerania, the document simply lost its value,” he said. “Maybe the bull was thrown out when the duchy took control of the monastery as a result of this congress – but maybe it was lost centuries later. We will probably never know when and why it was discarded.”