Move comes amid pressure on British Museums.
Pope Francis has ordered the return to Greece of three marble fragments from the Parthenon in Athens that have been in the pontifical collection of the Vatican Museums since the 19th century.
The 2,500-year-old sculptural pieces will be given to Ieronymos II, head of the Greek Orthodox Church, as a symbol of the pope’s “sincere desire to follow in the ecumenical path of truth,” the Holy See said in a statement on Friday.
The three fragments held in the Vatican Museums include the heads of a boy and a bearded male and part of the head of the horse pulling Athena’s chariot from the frieze that decorated the western front of the Parthenon, built as a temple to the goddess Athena in the fifth century BC.
News of the pope's donation comes as pressure mounts on the British Museums to repatriate its so-called Elgin Marbles collection of artefacts removed from the Parthenon in the early 19th century.
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