SOUTH BEND, Ind. ― The Vatican Library and the University of Notre Dame have entered an agreement aimed at making the books and manuscripts from one of the world’s most important research libraries more accessible to American scholars.
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.”
Brugues said he has worked with colleagues to find ways to increase the number of scholars going to the Vatican Library to conduct research and to use its resources.
“I thought that Notre Dame was the best door to enter,” Brugues said in English, interrupting the translator.
The Vatican Library, started by Pope Nicholas V in the 1450s, has 180,000 manuscripts, 1.6 million books and 150,000 prints, drawings and engravings.
Brugues was attending a conference Monday coinciding with an exhibition of manuscripts, printed books, maps and drawings from the Vatican Library that includes Galileo’s 1610 astronomical, “Sidereus Nuncius,” in which he recorded his first discoveries after using his telescope. The collection also includes a 16th-century Mass composed by Josquin des Préz that represents the introduction of movable type for printing music. The exhibition at the Snite Museum of Art on campus runs through May 22.
The Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, said the collaboration will be a great resource for the university’s scholars and students. But he said the more important factor was a chance for the university “to be joined with a place that is such an icon to the church’s commitment to learning.”
“We believe this is the first step in a number of steps to develop a relationship that will expose the great treasures of the Vatican Library to scholars and students alike,” he said.