Papal bull of Benedict XIII (1394–1417) from Grodno Castle

Łukasz Orlicki



The article aims at discussing a unique cultural property, which is the papal bull of Pope Benedict XIII that was discovered during the archaeological research conducted in Grodno Castle in 2017, as well as at determining the potential connections, as a result of which this cultural property found its place in Lower Silesia. The number of papal bulls which are discovered in contemporary Poland has been growing significantly from year to year. They are not only visually impressive artifacts, but above all good dating proofs due to the name of their issuer on each of them. In the case of identification of the papal bull discovered in Grodno Castle, initially there was a problem connected with the fact that in the history of the Catholic Church there were two popes bearing the name of Benedict XIII, i.e. Pedro de Luna who was in office at the turn of the 15th century and Francesco Orsini who ruled in the 18th century. Thanks to the source query and the comparative analysis, the issuer of the copy from Grodno Castle is undoubtedly the first of them – in historiography referred to as the Pope of Avignon obedience and colloquially as an anti-pope, due to the schism prevailing in the Church at that time. At the same time, it was ruled out that this cultural property might have been placed on the secondary deposit due to the analysis of the stratigraphy of the context layers in which it was discovered. On the basis of the query, the article also presents several hypotheses about a possible way the papal bull got to Lower Silesia. The conclusion which can be drawn from the research is the need to conduct further studies, not only on this particular cultural property, but first of all, in a broader aspect of papal bulls in Poland.

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