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Thursday, April 4, 2013


Vatican City, 4 April 2013 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., in the Holy Father's name, sent a telegram to Archbishop Mario Aurelio Poli of Buenos Aires, Argentina expressing the Pope's deep concern for those suffering from the severe weather and heavy rains that have devastated that country's capital, killing 56 persons to date and wreaking enormous damage. Following is the full text of the message.

Pope Francis, deeply upset by the news of the serious damage caused by the torrential rainfall of the past days, prays to the Lord for the eternal rest of those who have died. At the same time he wishes to express his paternal closeness to all the victims and their families.

Also, the Pope urges civil and ecclesial institutions, as well as all persons of good will, to offer their assistance with love and a spirit of Christian solidarity to those who have lost their homes and personal goods. With these thoughts, the Supreme Pontiff imparts to all those affected and all those offering assistance, his consoling apostolic blessing as a sign of his nearness to the beloved Argentinians.”


Vatican City, 4 April 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Vatican Museums inaugurated a virtual reality installation that reconstructs the famous Regolini-Galassi tomb of the Sorbo necropolis of Cerveteri, Italy, the grave goods of which are now located in the Gregorian Etruscan Museum of the Vatican Museums.

The installation is part of Etruscanning 3D, “a European project (Culture 2007 framework) that explores the possibilities of new visualization techniques in order to re-create and restore the original context of the Etruscan graves.” The project is the result of collaboration between: the Allard Pierson Museum (the archaeological museum of the University of Amsterdam); the National Museum for Antiquities in Leiden, Holland; the Gallo-Roman Museum in Tongeren, Belgium; the CNR-ITABC of Rome, Italy; and Visual Dimension of Ename, Belgium. Support was also given from the Vatican Museums and the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell'Etruria Meridionale (archaeological superintendency of Southern Etruria).

Discovered still intact in 1836, the actual tomb can only be visited by appointment. Its 3D reconstruction at the Vatican Museums presents it as it probably existed in the Etruscan Age (mid 7th century BC), shortly before it was sealed. The grave goods, which make the tomb one of the most interesting of the Etruscan period, have been virtually reconstructed within the installation. Their placement, however, was not a simple task since—at the time of the tomb's discovery—the archaeological dig was not systematically documented. Drawings and representations of what was found were all recreated after the objects had been removed. It was therefore necessary to recover and interpret the various iconographic and documentary sources in order to achieve a plausible reconstruction. In this case, the 3D process was not used merely as a means of communication and dissemination but also as a tool for verification and interpretation.

Like the tomb, the grave goods that are now housed in the Vatican Museums were reconstructed in 3D through photogrammetry and computer imaging. Although, for the most part, the objects are well preserved, they were subjected to a careful digital restoration based on observation, study of sources, and the analysis of comparative case studies. Some of the uncertain decorations have been reinstated with a good degree of reliability and the materials have been virtually returned to what was most likely their original state.

According to a press release from the Vatican Museums, the installation's most innovative element is its interactivity. “Based upon the use of natural interaction interfaces, the public has the opportunity to explore the virtually rebuilt space, to get closer to the objects, which are laden with symbolic meaning, to touch them and to listen to the narration of the deceased” (a woman of royal rank and a cremated man). This is all possible without the use of a joystick, mouse, keyboard, or console, simply by walking though the area in front of the projection. The projection is displayed on a large, high-definition holographic screen that is about 3 metres wide. It has two main “viewports”: the larger one dedicated to exploring the tomb and its interior objects and the second one that has a dynamic menu of the objects closest to the visitor while they are moving through the virtual space.

The soundscape was composed specifically for this application and combines ancient sounds with a contemporary musical language with … purely evocative intentions. The musical timbres are partly real (eg. flutes recorded live) and partly synthetic (bells and drums), interspersed with sounds echoing real life … (chariots, horses galloping, fire, etc.).”

The application won the first Archeovirtual Award for best natural interaction at the international ArcheoVirtual exhibition organised by the Virtual Heritage Lab at CNR-ITABC in Paestum, Italy last November. The award was conferred by recognition of both the public in attendance as well as an international scientific panel.


Vatican City, 4 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

  - Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples,

  - Cardinal James Michael Harvey, archpriest of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls Basilica, and

  - Archbishop Piero Marini, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.
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