Britain's MI5 intelligence outfit has revealed that Hitler's Germany had hatched a plan during World War Two to infiltrate the Vatican with spies disguised as monks.
According to The Telegraph, a Nazi sympathiser living in Rome came up with the idea and it was quickly seized upon by officials in Berlin who saw it as the ideal opportunity to keep up with Allied activity in the city.
The plan is revealed in MI5 reports held at the National Archives in Kew and which have now been declassified - and it comes just days after other files revealed how Germany had also tried to infiltrate the Boy Scouts.
The operation was called "Operation Georgian Convent" as it involved the purchase of a building in Rome by Michael Kedia, a Russian anti communist Nazi sympathiser from Georgia (Russian Republic of) who was also known to British intelligence.
According to the documents at Kew the idea gathered pace in the Autumn of 1943 as the Allies advanced up through Italy and the Germans were preparing to pull out of Rome.
MI5 was tipped off about the plan by Giuseppe Dosi, an Italian policeman who was acting as an informant to the British intelligence service and his report is in the file.
Money was provided from Germany and a building to be used as the Georgian cloister was bought by Kedia in the Monteverde district of Rome, just to the north of St Peter's.
Six agents were sent to the cloister to pose as monks and seminarians but they aroused the suspicion of Vatican officials for their lack of knoweldge on Catholic doctrine - and their interest in women.
However, the plan was thwarted after a tip off to the Vatican who wrote a letter to Germany's Ambassador for the Holy See saying it had been informed of the plot and was "deplored" by it.