America wasn?t discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, according to historian Ruggero Marino, because he sailed to the New World 7 years earlier on a secret mission for the Pope.

Marino says the 1492 voyage, financed by Spain, was a return visit. This emerged from a study of an early 16th century Ottoman map, which showed that Columbus found America in 1485, during the reign of Pope Innocent VIII.

Marino says there is corroborative proof in the inscription on the tomb of Innocent VIII in St. Peter?s Basilica, which reads, ?Novi orbis suo aevo inventi gloria,? meaning that during his pontificate ?the glory of the discovery of the New World? took place. Innocent VIII died at the end of July 1492, before Columbus set sail for the 2nd time and three months before he landed in the Bahamas. ?The inscription either anticipates Columbus? success or else refers to an earlier journey,? Marino says.

The pope?s aim, according to Marino, was to use the gold of the New World to finance the Crusades. Innocent VIII?s successor, Alexander VI, ?signed over the rights to the New World? to the Spanish throne. Columbus? first venture was covered up to give the Spanish credit for the discovery.

Marino said he was helped by the work of the late Professor Bausani, head of Islamic Studies at the University of Venice, who had studied the Piri Reis map, named for Piri Ibn Hadji Mehmed, admiral of the Ottoman fleet. The map, dated 1513, was lost for centuries but is now in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul.

Professor Bausani had stated that the ?key to the mystery of Columbus and the Indies? was in an annotation on the map, which refers to the American land mass: ?These shores were discovered in the year 890 of the Arab era by the infidel from Genoa.? Genoa was the birthplace of Columbus and 890 corresponds to the years 1495-86.

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