The Vatican Apostolic Library (Latin: Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana), more commonly called simply the Vatican Library, is the library of the Holy See, currently located in Vatican City. It is one of the oldest libraries in the world and contains one of the most significant collections of historical texts. Formally established in 1475, though in fact much older, it has 75,000 codices from throughout history. On 20 March 2014, the Holy See announced that NTT Data Corporation and the Library concluded an agreement to digitalize approximately 3,000 of the Library's manuscripts within four years. It noted that there is the possibility of subsequently digitalizing another 79,000 of the Library's holdings. These will be high-definition images available on the Library's Internet site.
Scholars have traditionally divided the history of the library into five periods.
- Pre-Lateran. The initial days of the library, dating from the earliest days of the church, before it moved to the Lateran Palace; only a handful of volumes survive from this period, though some are very significant.
- Lateran. Lasted until the end of the 13th century and the reign of Pope Boniface VIII.
- Avignon. This period saw a great growth in book collection and record keeping by the popes who were in residence in southern France in Avignon between the death of Boniface and the 1370s when the Papacy returned to Rome.
- Pre-Vatican. From about 1370 to 1446, the library was scattered, with parts in Rome, Avignon and elsewhere.
- Vatican. Starting around 1448, the library moved to the Vatican and a continuous history begins to the present time.
Pope Nicholas V established the library in the Vatican in 1448 by combining some 350 Greek, Latin and Hebrew codices inherited from his predecessors with his own collection and extensive acquisitions, among them manuscripts from the imperial Library of Constantinople. The Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana was established in 1475.
When its first librarian, Bartolomeo Platina, produced a listing in 1481, the library held over 3,500 items, making it by far the largest in the Western world. Around 1587, Pope Sixtus V commissioned the architect Domenico Fontana to construct a new building for the library; it is still in use today. Books were displayed on benches to which they were chained.
Bequests and acquisitions
The library was enriched by several bequests and acquisitions over the centuries.
In 1623, the hereditary Palatine Library of Heidelberg containing about 3,500 manuscripts was given to the Vatican by Maximilian I, Duke of Bavaria (who had just acquired it as booty in the Thirty Years' War) in thanks for the adroit political maneuvers of Pope Gregory XV that had sustained him in his contests with Protestant candidates for the electoral seat. A token 39 of the Heidelberg manuscripts were sent to Paris in 1797 and were returned to Heidelberg at the Peace of Paris in 1815, and a gift from Pope Pius VII of 852 others was made in 1816 to the University of Heidelberg, including the Codex Manesse. Aside from that, the Palatine Library remains in the Vatican Library to this day.
Queen Christina of Sweden's important library (mostly amassed by her generals as booty from Habsburg Prague and German cities during the Thirty Years War) was bought by Pope Alexander VIII on her death in 1689. It represented, for all practical purposes, the entire royal library of Sweden at the time. If it had remained where it was in Stockholm, it would all have been lost in the destruction of the royal palace by fire in 1697.
Today, the library holds some 75,000 manuscripts and over 1.1 million printed books, which include some 8,500 incunabula. The Vatican Secret Archives were separated from the library at the beginning of the 17th century; they contain another 150,000 items.
Among the most famous holdings of the library is the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209, the oldest known nearly complete manuscript of the Bible. The Secret History of Procopius was discovered in the library and published in 1623.
The Vatican Library is a research library for history, law, philosophy, science and theology, open to anyone who can document their qualifications and research needs. Photocopies for private study of pages from books published between 1801 and 1990 can be requested in person or by mail.
A School of Library Science is associated with the Vatican Library.
In 2012, plans were announced to digitize, in collaboration with the Bodleian Library, a million pages of material from the Vatican Library". A grant was provided by the London-based Polonsky Foundation.
Notable manuscripts in the Library include:
- Barberini Gospels
- De arte venandi cum avibus
- Gelasian Sacramentary
- Joshua Roll
- Vatican Croatian Prayer Book
- Vergilius Romanus
- Vergilius Vaticanus
Architecture and art
In the Sala di Consultazione or main reference room of the Vatican Library looms a statue of St Thomas Aquinas (c. 1910), sculpted by Cesare Aureli. A second version of this statue c. 1930 stands under the entrance portico of the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum.
|Name||Lifetime||Title||Time as Librarian|
|Marcello Cervini||1501–1555||Bibliothecarius I||May 24, 1550–April 9, 1555|
|Roberto de' Nobili||1541–1559||Bibliothecarius II||1555–January 18, 1559|
|Alfonso Carafa||1540–1565||Bibliothecarius III||1559–August 29, 1565|
|Marcantonio da Mula||1506–1572||Bibliothecarius IV||1565–March 17, 1572|
|Guglielmo Sirleto||1514–1585||Bibliothecarius V||March 18, 1572–October 16, 1585|
|Antonio Carafa||1538–1591||Bibliothecarius VI||October 16, 1585–January 13, 1591|
|Marco Antonio Colonna||1523 ca.–1597||Bibliothecarius VII||1591–March 13, 1597|
|Cesare Baronio||1538–1607||Bibliothecarius VIII||May 1597–June 30, 1607|
|Ludovico de Torres (it)||1552–1609||Bibliothecarius IX||July 4, 1607–July 8, 1609|
|Scipione Borghese Caffarelli||1576–1633||Bibliothecarius X||June 11, 1609–February 17, 1618|
|Scipione Cobelluzzi||1564–1626||Bibliothecarius XI||February 17, 1618–June 29, 1626|
|Francesco Barberini||1597–1679||Bibliothecarius XII||July 1, 1626–December 13, 1633|
|Antonio Barberini||1569–1646||Bibliothecarius XIII||December 13, 1633–September 11, 1646|
|Orazio Giustiniani||1580–1649||Bibliothecarius XIV||September 25, 1646–July 25, 1649|
|Luigi Capponi||1583–1659||Bibliothecarius XV||August 4, 1649–April 6, 1659|
|Flavio Chigi||1631–1693||Bibliothecarius XVI||June 21, 1659–September 19, 1681|
|Lorenzo Brancati||1612–1693||Bibliothecarius XVII||September 19, 1681–November 30, 1693|
|Girolamo Casanate||1620–1700||Bibliothecarius XVIII||December 2, 1693–March 3, 1700|
|Enrico Noris||1631–1704||Bibliothecarius XIX||March 26, 1700–February 23, 1704|
|Benedetto Pamphili||1653–1730||Bibliothecarius XX||February 26, 1704–March 22, 1730|
|Angelo Maria Querini||1680–1755||Bibliothecarius XXI||September 4, 1730–January 6, 1755|
|Domenico Passionei||1682–1761||Bibliothecarius XXII||July 10, 1741–January 12, 1755(P)
January 12, 1755–July 5, 1761
|Alessandro Albani||1692–1779||Bibliothecarius XXIII||August 12, 1761–December 11, 1779|
|Francesco Saverio de Zelada||1717–1801||Bibliothecarius XXIV||December 15, 1779–December 29, 1801|
|Luigi Valenti Gonzaga||1725–1808||Bibliothecarius XXV||January 12, 1802–December 29, 1808|
|Giulio Maria della Somaglia||1744–1830||Bibliothecarius XXVI||January 26, 1827–April 2, 1830|
|Giuseppe Albani||1750–1834||Bibliothecarius XXVII||April 23, 1830–December 3, 1834|
|Luigi Lambruschini||1776–1854||Bibliothecarius XXVIII||December 11, 1834–June 27, 1853|
|Angelo Mai||1782–1854||Bibliothecarius XXIX||June 27, 1853–September 9, 1854|
|Antonio Tosti||1776–1866||Bibliothecarius XXX||January 13, 1860–March 20, 1866|
|Jean-Baptiste Pitra||1812–1889||Bibliothecarius XXXI||January 19, 1869–February 9, 1889|
|Placido Maria Schiaffino (it)||1829–1889||Bibliothecarius XXXII||February 20, 1889–September 23, 1889|
|Alfonso Capecelatro||1824–1912||Bibliothecarius XXXIII||August 29, 1890–November 14, 1912|
|Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro||1843–1913||Bibliothecarius XXXIV||November 26, 1912–December 16, 1913|
|Francesco di Paola Cassetta||1841–1919||Bibliothecarius XXXV||January 3, 1914–March 23, 1919|
|Aidan [Francis Neil] Gasquet||1845–1929||Bibliothecarius XXXVI||May 9, 1919–April 5, 1929|
|Franz Ehrle||1845–1934||Bibliothecarius XXXVII||April 17, 1929–March 31, 1934|
|Giovanni Mercati||1866–1957||Bibliothecarius XXXVIII||June 18, 1936–August 23, 1957|
|Eugène Tisserant||1884–1972||Bibliothecarius XXXIX||September 14, 1957–March 27, 1971|
|Antonio Samoré||1905–1983||Bibliothecarius XL||January 25, 1974–February 3, 1983|
|Alfons Maria Stickler||1910–2007||Bibliothecarius XLI||September 7, 1983–May 27, 1985(P)
May 27, 1985–July 1, 1988
|Antonio María Javierre Ortas||1921–2007||Bibliothecarius XLII||July 1, 1988–January 24, 1992|
|Luigi Poggi||1917-2010||Bibliothecarius XLIII||April 9, 1992–November 29, 1994(P)
November 29, 1994–November 25, 1997
|Jorge María Mejía||1923-||Bibliothecarius XLIV||March 7, 1998–November 24, 2003|
|Jean-Louis Tauran||1943-||Bibliothecarius XLV||November 24, 2003–June 25, 2007|
|Raffaele Farina||1933-||Bibliothecarius XLVI||June 25, 2007–June 9, 2012|
|Jean-Louis Bruguès||1943-||Bibliothecarius XLVII||June 26, 2012-|
(P) Indicates time spent as Pro-Librarian
The office of Librarian of Vatican Library has been held at the same time as that of Archivist of Vatican Secret Archives since 1957. The two offices are held by an Archbishop who is generally named a Cardinal; this is due to the fact that it is a very well regarded and important Curial department. Also, it is because the Vatican has a long and proud tradition of producing, preserving, and classifying ancient important religious, philosophical, and theological published works and the Church also does much work to promote literacy and education, and access to it. The Cardinal Librarian and Archivist of the Holy Roman Church is assisted by two prelates, who are the Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library (the everyday manager of the Library), and the Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives (who handles the daily affairs of the Archives). They are each assisted by a Vice-Prefect. The current Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library is Monsignor Cesare Pasini (who is also the Director of the Vatican School of Library Science). The Vice Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library is Doctor Ambrogio M. Piazzoni. The Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives is a Barnabite Bishop by the name of Sergio Pagano. The Vice Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives is Father Marcel Chappin, S.J. The Archives also is responsible for the Vatican School of Paleography.
- Vatican Film Library, which contains thousands of documents from the Vatican Library, on microfilm in St. Louis, Missouri
- Vatican Secret Archives
- Index of Vatican City-related articles
- The Vatican Splendors
- Vatican Film Library informational pamphlet
- McKenna, Josephine (March 20, 2014). "Vatican library plans to digitise 82,000 of its most valuable manuscripts". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on March 23, 2014. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
- See "Vatican Library", Dictionary of the Middle Ages.
- Willey, David (17 July 2007). "Vatican Library closure irks scholars". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-07-17.
- "Vatican Library Homepage". Retrieved 13 September 2010.
- "Statute of the Vatican film-library". vatican.va.
- "CNS STORY: Vatican Library, Oxford's Bodleian launch major digitization project". Catholicnews.com. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
- Hendrix, John. History and culture in Italy. University Presss of America. Retrieved September 9, 2012. This sculpture is described in the following words: S. Tommaso seduto, nella sinistra tiene il libro della Summa theologica, mentre stende la destra in atto di proteggere la scienza cristiana. Quindi non siede sulla cattedra di dottore, ma sul trono di sovrano protettore; stende il braccio a rassicurare, non a dimostrare. Ha in testa il dottorale berretto, e conservando il suo tipo tradizionale, rivela nel volto e nell'atteggiamento l'uomo profondamente dotto. L'autore non ha avuto da ispirarsi in altr'opera che esistesse sul soggetto, quindi ha dovuto, può dirsi, creare questo tipo, ed è riuscito originale e felice nella sua creazione."
- Nel giubileo episcopale di Leone XIII. omaggio della Biblioteca vaticana XIX febbraio anno MDCCCXCIII. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- "Vatican Library History". Vaticanlibrary.va. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
- "Vatican Apostolic LibraryInstitute Connected with the Holy See". GCatholic.org. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
- "Consistory of February 26, 1561 (II)". .fiu.edu. 2006-08-05. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
- "Consistory of September June 5, 1596 (II)". .fiu.edu. 2007-04-15. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
- "Consistory of July 18, 1605 (I)". .fiu.edu. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
- "Consistory of April 9, 1657 (I)". .fiu.edu. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
- "Consistory of March 16, 1863 (XIII)". .fiu.edu. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
- "Consistory of July 27, 1885 (VIII)". .fiu.edu. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
- "Luigi Poggi". .fiu.edu. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
- "Government | Sito ufficiale dell'Archivio Segreto Vaticano – Città del Vaticano". Archiviosegretovaticano.va. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
- "BAV - Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana". Vaticanlibrary.va. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Biblioteca apostolica Vaticana.|
- Vatican Library English home page
- Vatican Library old home page, with online catalog search
- History of the Vatican Library, from the Library's site
- Treasures of the Vatican Library Exposed via The European Library
- Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library & Renaissance Culture, an online exhibition from the Library of Congress.
- Toward On-line, worldwide access to Vatican Library materials (1996). A collaborative effort (pioneered by Fr. Leonard Boyle OP Prefect of the Vatican Library) between the Vatican Library and IBM, the primary goal of which is to "provide access via the Internet to some of the Library's most valuable manuscripts, printed books, and other sources to a scholarly community around the world."
- Vatican to digitize Apostolic Library of 1.6 million volumes for general perusal, PCWorld.com, October 29, 2002. A joint effort between the Vatican and Hewlett-Packard.
- Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library. Saint Louis University library that focuses on the collection of the Vatican Library.
- The Secret History of Art by Noah Charney on the Vatican Library and Procopius. An article by art historian Noah Charney about the Vatican Library and its famous manuscript, Historia Arcana by Procopius.
- The Vatican: spirit and art of Christian Rome, a book from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on the library (p. 280-290)