Hereford Cathedral are pleased to announce that their Magna Carta will be displayed in Italy this year as part of a celebration marking the 800th anniversary of the foundation of the Basilica of Sant’Andrea in Vercelli, north-west Italy.

In March the 1217 copy of Magna Carta will travel to Vercelli to be a key feature of the exhibition Guala Bicchieri: L’Europa a Vercelli agli inizi del Duecento, (Guala Bicchieri: Vercelli and Europe at the beginning of the 13th century), to be held at Arca, a former church which is now a venue for exhibitions and cultural events in the city's centre.

Cardinal Guala Bicchieri, who laid the foundation stone of the Basilica on 19 February 1219, was one of the most eminent figures in Vercelli history. As the papal legate to England, he was instrumental in the creation and ratification of the 1217 Magna Carta, which brought to an end the civil war which arose in the reign of King John. In November 1217, the young Henry III gave the Cardinal the Abbey of Saint Andrew of Chesterton, north of Cambridge. Back in Vercelli, Guala used the income to finance the construction of the Abbey of Sant'Andrea, one of the first examples of Gothic architecture in Italy.

The Revd Canon Chris Pullin, Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral, said, “We’re absolutely delighted at Hereford Cathedral that our Magna Carta is able to be displayed in Vercelli, the first time that this document has ever been displayed in Italy, in celebration of the 800th anniversary of the foundation of Sant’Andrea. Bicchieri has a very important place in England as one of the people who helped to safeguard the Magna Carta and thereby to set it as one of the foundations of English democracy that lasts until the present day.”

"We are delighted to be able to make this partnership and to be able to share our treasures with others," said Glyn Morgan of Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust, "Such partnerships are perhaps a good reminder of our shared history."

"In addition to working with the City of Vercelli, we will be working alongside the British Embassy in Rome and the Embassy to the Holy See, with whom we worked last year during our visit to the Vatican. The partnership also includes the Archdiocese of Vercelli and we look forward to working with them and Archbishop Marco Arnolfo during the project." 

"We also hope that it will raise the profile of Hereford and encourage visitors from Italy to visit the cathedral, the county and the diocese over the coming year."