The five-year agreement calls for the library and the university to collaborate in organizing joint conferences, to hold lecture series, art exhibitions and musical and theatrical performances, to have informal exchanges of personnel and to develop joint research programs.
“The library was very much interested in Notre Dame helping the library to have a greater presence in the United States and to reach a larger American public,” Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues said through a translator during a signing ceremony Monday.
Brugues said when he became the archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church in 2012 he was “surprised and a bit disillusioned to discover that so many treasures within its collections that belong to the whole of humanity are not available to the whole of humanity.”
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The only such collaboration between the Vatican Library and any American academic institution, the agreement will develop visits and informal exchanges of faculty, scholars, librarians and administrators; organize joint conferences, lecture series, art exhibitions, and musical and theatrical performances; and explore the development of joint programs of research.
Asked what had attracted the Vatican Library to the new collaboration, Archbishop Bruguès replied in French, through a translator, that he hoped the arrangement would enhance the presence of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in the United States and the world and reach a larger public. When he was appointed Vatican librarian, he said, he was “surprised and even a bit disillusioned” to learn that “so many treasures that are within its collection and that really belong to the whole of humanity are not available to the whole of humanity.” He said he hopes to increase the number of scholars with access to the library and that “Notre Dame is the best place to start that process here in America.”
The Vatican Library’s holdings today include some 80,000 manuscripts; 100,000 archival documents; 1.6 million printed books, including nearly 9,000 incunabula, 150,000 prints, thousands of drawings and plates; over 200,000 photographs; and 300,000 coins and medals, among other items. The manuscript collection includes such invaluable materials as the “Codex Vaticanus” of the Bible; the “Vergilius Vaticanus,” containing fragments of Virgil’s Aeneid; the “Dante Urbinate”; and other manuscripts that are used to produce modern editions of countless ancient texts.
The agreement is being celebrated on campus with an academic conference, The Promise of the Vatican Library; an exhibition of materials from the Vatican Library in the Snite Museum of Art; an exhibition of Vatican-related books and manuscripts held by Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Libraries in the Rare Books and Special Collections room; and a concert of sacred music in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart featuring music held by the Vatican Library.