The Church is known to have its secrets, with hidden meanings, concealed messages and puzzles that only the likes of The Da Vinci Code's Robert Langdon could solve. So imagine their surprise when restorers in Spain discovered a secret document concealed in a very unlikely place — the butt of a statue of Jesus.
According to the restoration company Da Vinci Restauro, a time capsule was found in a statue of Christ crucified, called Cristo del Miserere from the church of Santa Águeda in Sotillo de la Ribera. The message was discovered in the hollowed out portion of the wooden figure when they took apart a removable piece that covered the statue's backside.
Following an examination of the two-page note, it was confirmed to have been written by an 18th-century Spanish priest. The note contains information about life at that time.
"Although it is usual for many sculptures to be hollow, it is not so much to find handwritten documents inside," historian Efrén Arroyo, a member of the Holy Week Brotherhood of Sotillo de la Ribera, explained.
The 240-year-old document was written in 1777, by Joaquín Mínguez, a chaplain of the Cathedral of the Burgo de Osma, where the statue of Jesus was previously housed. While he did not reveal any hidden secrets or detail a map to religious treasure, Mínguez offered a glimpse into the Spain in which he lived.
In his note, he describes the statue's sculptor, Manuel Bal, "natural scholar of San Bernardo de Yagüe and neighbour in Campillo, both of this Bishopric of Osma," adding that Bal carved five other figures for the main altar of the church of Sotillo de la Ribera - Santa Águeda and the saints Santiago, Millán, Jerónimo, and Juan.
Documenting that King Carlos III was in power at the time, he lists names of various aldermen, significant events that took place, crops cultivated in the region (wheat, rye, barley and oats, and wine grapes), common diseases (such as malaria and typhoid fever) and popular forms of entertainment (such as cards, ball games, and bar games).
"The Court is in Madrid, there is a Mail and Gazette for the news, there is an Inquisition, for which no errors are experienced against the Church of God," the document reportedly reads, according to Science Alert.