If you were to look for a long-hidden "time capsule", a Jesus Christ statue standing in an old church would be rather an unlikely place you would expect to find it, right? Especially the sculpture's butt, sorry, its derriere area? And yet this is exactly what Spanish restorers found while examining a hollow statue of Christ Crucified standing in the altar area of the XVIII century church of Santa Águeda in the castle Sotillo de la Ribera near Burgos. As reported by the Spanish news agency EFE, during the ongoing restoration carried out by Da Vinci Restauro the Cristo del Miserere statue was moved from the church to a workshop.

Workers then discovered somewhat by accident that a wooden element depicting the rear part of the wooden loincloth is carved in a way that it can be detached just below the waistline. When removed it revealed a cavity where they found two well-preserved folded sheets of paper with a hand-written message. The manuscript is dated 1777, and it was authored by father Joaquin Mínguez, chaplain of the cathedral of Burgo de Osma. Covering both sides of two pieces of paper, the note documents Manuel Bal, the sculptor who carved the statue, describing him as a "natural scholar of San Bernardo de Yagüe and neighbour in Campillo, both of this Bishopric of Osma," while noting that Bal completed five other statues for the main altar of the Sotillo de la Ribera church, including those of saints Águeda, Santiago, Millán, Jerónimo, and Juan.

Priest's message for posterity left for centuries in hidden time capsule

According to experts who deciphered the message, the details of the text clearly indicate the author intended to leave a message for generations to come. In addition to the statue's sculptor credentials, Mínguez wrote on daily life in those years. He gives details about crops which were cultivated in the area, such as wheat, rye, barley and oats, mentions common diseases people suffered from like malaria and typhoid fever, as well as the locals' most popular entertainments of the time, which included cards, ball games, and bar games.

The manuscript could not have omitted the name of the then reigning king, Carlos III, as well as names of various local dignitaries. According to Science Alert, after listing main events of the epoch the document reads, "The Court is in Madrid, there are Mail and Gazette for the news, and there is Holy Inquisition, which experienced no errors against the Church of God." The statue fund appears to be an actual time capsule, built to remain hidden for hundreds of years.

"Although it is usual for many sculptures to be hollow," noted Efrén Arroyo, a local historian and member of the Holy Week Brotherhood of Sotillo de la Ribera, "it is not the case for handwritten documents to be stored inside." The original manuscript has been transferred to the archives of the Archbishopric of Burgos, yet its exact copy was placed back inside the restored statue - just as father Mínguez planned.