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Vatican’s Jacobite treasures go on display in Edinburgh museum

Two of the grave markers, on loan from St Peter’s Basilica, for Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart) and his younger brother, Henry Benedict, on display at the Museum of Scotland (Photo: Neil Hanna)

Rare treasures from the Vatican have gone on loan to the National Museum of Scotland, as part of a new exhibition about Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites.

The exhibition, which opens in Edinburgh today, includes three marble grave markers formerly in St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City – those of Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), his younger brother Henry Benedict, and their father James VIII of Scotland and II of England.

The grave markers have gone on loan from the Pontifical Scots College for the first time. Also on loan, from the Sacristy Museum, is a gold communion set, which has never gone on display in the UK before. Known as the York Chalice and Paten, it belonged to Henry (Cardinal York), who gave it to the church.

The artefacts are some of more than 300 items drawn from across Europe in the show which explores the history of the exiled Stuart dynasty.

David Forsyth, principal curator of the exhibition, said: “Bonnie Prince Charlie is the one that people know about, but I think that the visitors will be quite taken aback by the longevity of the Jacobites’ cause,” according to Scottish newspaper The National.

Charles died in Rome on 31 January 1788, aged 68. He was first buried in the Frascati Cathedral, where his brother Henry Benedict was bishop.

After Henry’s death in 1807, Charles was reinterred and the brothers, alongside their father, now rest together in the crypt of St Peter’s Basilica.

“It’s a story that has inspired artists, writers, poets. It’s a story that still continues to have an interest and a resonance for people,” Mr Forsyth said.