The Promise of the Vatican Library

Sala Sistina, Vatican Library, Vatican City

Sala Sistina, Vatican Library, Vatican City

Milly and Fritz Kaeser Mestrovic Studio Gallery May 8 through May 22, 2016

Organized in conjunction with a conference of the same name, this exhibition in the Museum will feature about twelve works from the Vatican Library’s holdings, including original Greek and Latin manuscripts, a fifteenth-century music sheet, numismatics, maps, and drawings. It is one of several campus events celebrating the May 9 formalization of an agreement of collaboration between the Vatican Library and the University of Notre Dame to 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 over the next five years.

Highlights of the works on loan from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, or Vatican Library, on view in the Snite Museum include Galileo’s 1610 astronomical treatise, “Sidereus Nuncius,” the first published scientific work based on observations made through a telescope; a 13th-century manuscript commentary by Albertus Magnus on Aristotle’s treatise on nature, “Parva Naturalia”; and a 16th-century Mass composed by Josquin des Préz, which represents the introduction of movable type for printing music.

As part of the campus-wide celebration of this new and unique agreement of collaboration and exchange between the University and the Vatican Library, materials selected from the collections of the Hesburgh Library will be featured in “Vestigia Vaticana,” an exhibition of books and manuscripts from the Middle Ages through the modern era, including papal bulls and documents, papal book bindings and representations of the Vatican in print, will be held in the Hesburgh Libraries’ Rare Books and Special Collections rooms May 5 through Aug. 15.

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.