The Vatican’s library holds millions of books and thousands of documents and images. Collected by the Catholic Church since the library’s genesis in 1451, donated, pilfered, and otherwise acquired works of human thought have become locked away in the exclusive vault. As those with privy access have been able to read and explore the many works of literature and art that are held within the ancient walls, the rest of us have only been able to imagine what obscure, arcane, and theologically potent materials have been hidden from the eyes of the masses.
Thanks to a voluntary organisation, Digita Vaticana, now nearly 18,000 manuscripts are available online. With funds donated to them, the uploading utility company have been able to scan vast amounts of ancient paper documents with a special no-damage technique. Because the works are often hundreds of years old, the paper or parchment they are written on had become extremely fragile. This meant a special technology was needed to scan the writing without putting any stress on the material at all. Once scanned, every document was returned to its safe keeping place.
It's interesting that despite the vast wealth of the Catholic Church, the cash for this project had to come from donations and fund-raising. Maybe there are those in the institution who would rather not let everyone see what secrets they hold? We can only guess as to what remains to be scanned in. The work has only just begun, and Digita Vaticana have admitted they need millions more Euros and several more years to gain a complete upload of the resource. Do you think they will do it? Let’s hope they do.
With society moving into transparency for trust and being an institution that many have learned to distrust, perhaps it is in the best interests of the Vatican to put up the money itself and let the good people get on with tearing down the veil. Curiosity aside, perhaps if we’re shown there’s nothing to hide then this ancient and evolved aspect of the Roman Empire can find its way in the 21st Century.
You can visit Digita Vaticana Onlus here.
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