Photographs of Cardinal Jacques de Vitry, who died in 1240!


Researchers have digitally reconstructed the face of Jacques de Vitry, from his DNA. The influential cardinal died in 1240, and no paintings or prints of him have survived. As such, it is the first time that archaeologists can literally look into the eyes of the object of their research. But how sure are we that this actually was the face of Cardinal Jacobus de Vitriaco?

Brown hair, shaved, crow's feet around the eyes and a pensive look: this is how the cardinal appears in these extremely precise "photos". "This digital reconstruction is the result of three years of research," explained Project Coordinator Fiona Lebecque. "For this reconstruction, we first scanned Jacques de Vitry's skull, and supplemented the results with the DNA we were able to find.

Jacques de Vitry died in Rome in 1240, aged around 60. A year later, his body was transferred to the Priory of Oignies, in the province of Namur, and was buried there. "Over time, his remains were moved several times, but the bones we examined clearly date back to the 13th century.

To learn more about the eventful life of this medieval prelate, visit