The Vatican Library is restored

Source: FSSPX News

The renowned Vatican Library will reopen its doors on September 20, 2010, after three years of important renovation work, now equipped with numerous technical innovations.  The prefect of the library, Monsignor Cesare Pasini, assured reporters that the transformation has been followed closely by Benedict XVI, assisted by the librarian Cardinal Raffaele Farina.

Indeed, in 2007, with the conservation laboratories in danger of falling apart, it had been decided to undertake the complete renovation of the Vatican Library.  This decision was nevertheless not easy, Msgr. Pasini noted to I.Media, for many researchers were opposed to it, going so far as to ask the pope, in writing, to prevent or at least to shorten the duration of the closing.  This gave rise to “the very lively interest” of Benedict XVI in this renovation, the prefect explained, adding that the pope was among the first to rejoice at the completion of the work.

The library, built for the most part during the Renaissance, now has nine laboratories available, destined for the restoration/conservation of manuscripts (numbering some 150,000) or printed works (1,600,000).  Motion detectors, cameras, and electronic screening will make it possible to monitor the comings and goings of researchers—an average of between 150 and 200 per day—who from now on will gain admission by presenting a magnetic badge.  The printed works make use of an electronic chip.  A new elevator installed at the side of the building, in the courtyard of the Library, directly connects the depository of manuscripts with the renovated consultation room and with the laboratory.  The immense periodicals room has been renovated, which makes it possible to expand the collection.

“In a larger context, we anticipate the reopening in 2012 of the salon of Sixtus V as a reading room”, confided Msgr. Pasini.  Situated on the top floor of the library, this gallery built in the sixteenth century by Domenico Fontana (1543-1607) is decorated from floor to ceiling with frescos executed by about forty painters that Sixtus V (1585-1590) had assembled for the occasion.  Finally, a gigantic undertaking awaits ‘la Vaticana’:  to digitize, in ten years, half of the manuscript patrimony, that is to say, 75,000 documents.

The Arm of Charlemagne, on the left of Saint Peter’s Square, will welcome from November 10 of this year until January 31, 2011, an exposition on the history of the Vatican Library since its beginnings, from the fifteenth century down to our own day.  Some book conservation work will be performed in public, and visitors will be able freely to leaf through some reproductions of precious manuscripts.  (Sources : apic/imedia - DICI no. 220 dated August 7, 2010)