Vatican library to close for restoration

 The Vatican Apostolic Library is to close to the public for three years beginning on July 14, for renovation work in some parts of the Renaissance building in which it is housed. The wing in which the collections are kept needs structural repair work including strengthening the floor which is showing signs of subsiding, bringing large areas of the building into line with safety norms, and moving a number of sectors in order to rationalize access to the works. According to the 'Osservatore Romano,' the decision to close the library was reached only after various other solutions to resolve the above-mentioned problems had been considered. Over the last few months everything possible has been done to intervene without disturbing the 20,000 scholars and researchers who use the library each year, including the transfer of some 300,000 books to nearby areas in order to lighten the load on the floor. During the period of closure, all the other functions of the library will continue, including the photographic reproduction of manuscripts for researchers. The library was established by Pope Nicholas V who, in 1448, transferred around 350 Greek, Latin and Hebrew codices acquired by his predecessors to the Vatican. In earlier times, collections had been kept at the Lateran Palace in Rome (until the end of the 13th century) and at Avignon (during the years Popes resided in that French city). Between 1370, when the papacy returned to Rome, and 1447, the collections were dispersed, with parts in Rome and others in Avignon and elsewhere. The real foundation of the library, however, is due to Pope Sixtus IV. On June 14 1475, with the Bull 'Ad decorem militantis Ecclesiae,' he assigned a budget to the institution and appointed as librarian Bartolomeo Platina, who drew up the first catalogue in 1481. At that time, the library possessed 3,500 manuscripts and was the largest in the western world. Around the year 1587, Pope Sixtus V commissioned the architect Domenico Fontana to construct a new building to house the library, which is where it is still located today. In 1623, Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria donated the entire Palatine Library of Heidelberg, containing some 3,500 manuscripts, to Gregory XV as a sign of gratitude for the Pope's support during the Thirty Years War. In 1657 the Vatican Apostolic Library acquired the manuscripts of the dukes of Urbino, and in 1689 the collections of Queen Christina of Sweden. Today, the Vatican Apostolic Library houses some 75,000 manuscripts, 1,600,000 printed books and 8,300 incunabula, while the Vatican Secret Archives, which were separated from the library at the beginning of the 17th century, contain around 150,000 volumes. Among the most important manuscripts is the "Codex Vaticanus," the oldest known manuscript of the Bible. Source: VIS

Share this story