Centuries-old copy of Christopher Columbus letter stolen from Vatican found in US

A centuries old copy of a Christopher Columbus letter has been recovered and it will make its way back to its home, the Vatican.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the historic document was discovered by American investigators and it dates back 500 years. 

RELATED: Ancient Aztec temple unearthed in Mexico City

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Ancient Aztec temple unearthed in Mexico City
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Ancient Aztec temple unearthed in Mexico City

A new Aztec discovery of the remains of the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, is seen during a tour of the area, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017.

(REUTERS/Henry Romero)

A new Aztec discovery of the remains of the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, is seen during a tour of the area, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017.

(REUTERS/Henry Romero)

Raul Barrera, an archaeologist from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) speaks to the media about new Aztec discoveries including the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, as well as an adjacent ritual ball court, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Henry Romero)

Raul Barrera, an archaeologist from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) speaks to the media about new Aztec discoveries including the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, as well as an adjacent ritual ball court, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Henry Romero)

Raul Barrera, an archaeologist from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) shows to the media a new Aztec discovery a ritual ball court, during a tour of the area, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Henry Romero)

A new Aztec discovery of the remains of the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, is seen during a tour of the area, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017.

(REUTERS/Henry Romero)

A new Aztec discovery of the remains of the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, is seen during a tour of the area, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero

A new Aztec discovery of the remains of the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, is seen during a tour of the area, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Henry Romero)

A model of the major structures of the ceremonial precinct of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, including the temple to the wind god and ball court, as seen outside the ruins of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Henry Romero)

A new Aztec discovery of the remains of the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, is seen during a tour of the area, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Henry Romero)

View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City on June 7, 2017.

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexican archaeologist Raul Barerra gives an explanation during a tour by the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City, on June 7, 2017. 

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexican archaeologist Raul Barerra gives an explanation during a tour by the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City, on June 7, 2017. 

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City on June 7, 2017.

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexican archaeologist Raul Barerra (R) gives an explanation during a tour by the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City, on June 7, 2017.

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City on June 7, 2017. 

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexican archaeologist Raul Barerra (R) gives an explanation during a tour by the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City, on June 7, 2017. 

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexican archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma gives an explanation during a press conference on the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City, on June 7, 2017.

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City on June 7, 2017. 

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexican archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma gives an explanation during a press conference on the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City, on June 7, 2017. 

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

Journalists work during a tour by the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City, on June 7, 2017. 

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City on June 7, 2017. 

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City on June 7, 2017.

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City on June 7, 2017. 

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City on June 7, 2017. 

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual Ball Game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City on June 7, 2017. 

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

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The letter describing Columbus’ first voyage to the New World was stolen from the Vatican and replaced with a fake. The date of the forgery or the thief is still unknown. 

But the rare copy of the 1493 letter was found as part of a private collection owned by Robert Parsons, an Atlanta actuary, and collector of old travel writing. Mr. Parsons passed away but his widow has agreed to return the letter to the Vatican.

Investigators at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security tracked the letter after receiving a tip and discovered Parsons spent $875,000 for the crown jewel of his collection of rare books about early exploration of the Americas. He had purchased it from a rare-book dealer in New York in 2004, not knowing that it had been stolen.

We’re sure the Pope is very thankful! 

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