From The Telegraph Feb 28th 2012
Vatican Secret Archives reveal abdication letter of ‘hermaphrodite’ Swedish queen
The abdication letter of a “hermaphrodite” Swedish queen is one of 100 unusual documents from the Vatican Secret Archives which will go on display on Wednesday in an unprecedented exhibition.
Queen Christina of Sweden caused a scandal when she stepped down from the throne and converted from the state religion of Lutheranism to Catholicism in 1654.
Known for her unconventional dress sense, deep voice and masculine behaviour, she is believed to have been born with a mix of female and male genitals and hormones.
An intense relationship with one of her ladies-in-waiting, with whom she sometimes shared a bed, fuelled rumours that the queen was a lesbian.
An eight-page parchment document that announced her abdication, complete with seals from members of the Swedish parliament, will be part of the exhibition of 100 documents in Rome’s Capitoline Museums.
After her conversion to the Catholic faith and renunciation of the Swedish throne, Christina moved to Rome, where she was triumphantly received by the Church.
She initially stayed in the Tower of Winds, a frescoed tower inside the Vatican Secret Archives, but later moved into Palazzo Farnese, which is now the French embassy.
She had a French marquis murdered in her presence after he betrayed her plans to become Queen of Naples.
She died in 1689 and is one of the few women to be buried in St Peter’s Basilica.
Scientists exhumed her body in 1965 to search for skeletal evidence that she was a hermaphrodite but the results were inconclusive.
Even so, she became a symbol of lesbianism and cross-dressing in the 20th century and inspired plays and musicals.