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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency typically focused on carrying out immigration laws inside the country, announced Thursday it had delivered a recently discovered copy of a letter Christopher Columbus wrote in 1493 back to the Vatican Library. Callista Gingrich, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, brought the letter to the Vatican for a repatriation ceremony Thursday.

“The Columbus Letter, written in 1493, is a priceless piece of cultural history. I am honored to return this remarkable letter to the Vatican Library — its rightful owner,” Gingrich said in a statement.

The article goes on to state the following:

The return of the document — estimated in 2004 to be worth $875,000 — has been years in the making since it went missing decades ago.

ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations agency was tipped off in 2011 by a researcher at the Vatican Library who said the current copy was likely forged. Agents based in Philadelphia and the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware then untertook a seven-year effort to recover the letter. Federal agents were able to trace the original letter to Robert Parsons, an actuary in Atlanta. Parsons told them he had bought it from a rare book dealer in New York in 2004.

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