The European Space Agency Rescues the Vatican Manuscripts through Digitization

Source: FSSPX News

The first results of the digitization of the Vatican Apostolic Library’s manuscripts were presented in Rome on April 16, 2018. They are the fruit of an unprecedented collaboration between the European Space Agency and the Holy See.

The goal of the project is to “scan the Vatican’s 82,000 manuscripts”, explained the prefect of the Apostolic Library, Monsignor Cesare Pasini.

Some of these manuscripts are over 1800 years old and there are also about 1.6 million printed documents: “for the time being, we have accomplished 15% of the total work,” rejoiced the prelate.

An Enormous Cost - An Enormous Benefit

Bishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, bishop emeritus of Angers and currently the Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, explained that the cost of these scans that are being made with the collaboration of several countries “is truly enormous”, but that the work is necessary, “both for a better preservation of our treasures and in order to make them available to the public even at a distance.”

For the past five years, the European Space Agency has been cooperating closely with the Vatican: “Just like for us,” remarks Josef Aschbacher, director of the Earth Observation Center, the Holy See was faced with the problem of a large quantity of documents and writings to scan and make available to the entire world. We therefore applied a spatial (storage and data encoding) technology that we already use to observe the earth and the universe; this allows us to work together at the lowest possible cost.”

Josef Aschbacher went on to explain:

...the project facilitates the preservation and future access to the ancient collections of the Vatican Library thanks to a software program developed in the 1970s by NASA and the European Space Agency that is able to store an enormous amount of collected data.