2012-06-13 L’Osservatore RomanoTwo editors, 25 collaborators and 12 years of work. These are the statistics from “The Guide to the manuscript, print and numismatic collections of the Vatican Library” by Francesco D'Aiuto and Paolo Vian, published by the Vatican Library. We can now add this book to the series “Studies and texts”. Its 1,557 pages in two volumes is indicative of the impressive nature of the endeavour.
“The Guide to the manuscript, print and numismatic collections of the Vatican Library” - which will be officially presented on 14 June - is not just an instruction manual for use, just like the Vatican Library is not just a library. The private collection of books of the Bishop of Rome “with all of its materials, manuscripts, archives, printed books, coins and medals, designs, engravings and photographs”, writes the Prefect, Mons. Cesare Pasini, “is a marvellous treasure to discover”. A treasure that, for more than 500 years together with the Vatican Museums and the Vatican Archives, best expresses the fruitful presence of the papacy in history of culture, materially witnessing how the Christian faith, in particular Roman Catholicism, was and is capable of creating the most varied expressions of culture.
A text like that of the Guide - fruit of editorial work and the coordination of 27 scholars' contributions lasting 12 years - in the end seems more like a living organism than a guide, a mosaic more than a drawing. It appears to be similar to the polycentric and polyphonic film “Rashömon” by Kurosawa, to cite an image in the preface of the book by the two editors.
Regarding the two volumes of the “human-like guide”, we spoke with the two editors: Francesco D'Aiuto, Byzantinist at the University in Rome Tor Vergata, but previously a librarian in the Vatican, and Paolo Vian, director of the department of manuscripts.