The Vatican Library
The history of the Vatican Library began when the Pope Silvester I (314- 335) settled in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, thanks to the Edict of Constantine in 313. The Basilica was built by Constantine himself and by the half of that century was set in it a scrinum sanctum, that is a collection of books which was at the same time a library for the booksellers and an archive for documents. This volume mainly deals with the location of the Popes' Library, since when the Popes moved to the Vatican, but it also presents the history of the Library from its beginnings. Between 1587 and 1589 the Pope Sixtus V built the Salone Sistino in the Vatican Apostolic Palace nearby St. Peter, which became the new location of the Library. This place is one of the gems of the Vatican City, since it contains frescos representing the history of Councils and the Charter for the Codices and for print. In 2012 this architectural and decorative wonder will reopen as a reference place, although it still won't be accessible to the Museum's visitors and tourists. The Vatican Library at the time of Sixtus V was already the most important library of its epoch and in time it collected many antiquity and medieval works in Latin and Greek. Later on it welcomed masterpieces from all over Europe and from further on, as it happened with the purchase of one of the 14 Pre- Columbian Codices. This is an extraordinary place thanks to its vaults and its stores where the most important and perishable codices are preserved. Even nowadays the only way to access it is to follow strict rules, that seem almost rituals. The Library is open to those consulting volumes and manuscripts, and at the same time keeps on receiving new masterpieces and works that are fundamental for the cultural and religious history of humankind. An example of this is the arrival in 2005 of the Bodmer IV- V papyrus, found in Egypt and written between the years 180-200, containing the almost complete Gospels of Luke and John. Therefore, the Library in itself is a place of art and is the vessel of the fi nest illuminated art from the late antiquity to Renaissance. In the end this volume is about the architectural and pictorial analysis of this location but it is also about the representation of the most important manuscripts and codices for history and aesthetics by presenting them in historical order according to the time in which they arrived to the Library. One of the most sacred places of the Vatican is unveiled and its story and treasures are revealed in this volume. Written by the greatest scholars in the field.
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