January 28, 2022

Special Collections: University of British Columbia Library Acquires 800 Year Old Papal Document

From the U. of British Columbia:

An extraordinary Papal document that’s nearly 800 years old has become a valuable teaching and research tool at UBC, thanks to a history instructor’s passion and the university library’s restoration efforts.

The medieval gem, called a Papal bull, was written in 1245. A legal decree issued in Latin by Pope Innocent IV to the Italian convent of San Michele in Trento, it features the signatures of the Pope and 13 cardinals (including future pope Nicholas III).

While there are other Papal bulls elsewhere in Canada, most are from the 15th century or later. UBC Library’s bull, which is housed in Rare Books and Special Collections and has also been digitized, is among the oldest of its kind in Canada. “UBC has acquired something really exceptional,” says Richard Pollard, an early European specialist and instructor in UBC’s Department of History. “It’s very useful as a representation of medieval documents generally.”


The story of the Papal bull’s arrival at the UBC Library started in 2013, following the acquisition of a medieval manuscript that’s also the oldest Western book in the Library’s collections.

UBC has made available multiple images mages of the newly acquired document at or near the top of their Flickr page.

Learn More About the Rare Document in the Complete News Release

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.