Our Collections

The university has a rich collection in the field of Religious Studies.

Maurits Sabbe Library

The Maurits Sabbe Library is one of the leading theological libraries in the world. It possesses about 200,000 rare books, 1200 manuscripts, hundreds of incunabula and post-incunabula, and thousands of books from the 16th, 17th, and 18th century. Beautiful highlights include the Bible of Anjou, and the Library of Cardinal d’Alsace.

The focus of the heritage collections (also called the special collections) is on the printed religious heritage from the Low Countries: Bibles, Bible commentaries, the Church Fathers, documents concerning councils and synods, theology, canon law, homilies, liturgical texts, prayer books, catechetical texts. Highlights among these collection include the libraries of many religious orders and congregations, which serve to commemorate the legacy of the intellectual history of Roman Catholicism in Belgium and the Netherlands. Indeed, the library not only preserves the belongings of most leading orders and congregations in Belgium but also the large libraries of the Dutch Jesuits and Capuchins.

Moreover, intense research is done with regard to specific orders and congregations: in combination with the work done in the KADOC, the material available is of the utmost importance for future researchers in the field.

KADOC Collections

KADOC preserves hundreds of archives from Christian workers and employers organisations, from educational organizations and youth movements, and from religious orders and congregations. The collection contains archives of agricultural organizations, political parties and politicians, NGOs, (action) committees, noble families, priests, sisters, architects and artists and much more. Discover our extensive collection here.

In addition to our physical and virtual collections, visiting KADOC also provides you with access to ODIS. ODIS is the KADOC dynamic and contextual database. It offers instruments for innovative, multidisciplinary and comparative research into the history civil society, furthering cross-fertilization between scholarly researchers and the custodians of the relevant cultural heritage collections. The ODIS database comprises data on:

  • Organisations or intermediary structures
  • Persons and families who were active in civil society
  • Events and buildings related to their history
  • Periodicals and archives by and about these entities

The Book Heritage Lab

Because of its rich collection and thanks to the support by the University, the Flemish Community and private sponsoring, the Faculty was able to create a Book Heritage Lab. This lab not only restores precious manuscripts, but also does research with regard to manuscripts, book bindings, provenances and the like. The lab has developed intense collaboration with civil engineers, medical doctors, specialized labs. The Book Heritage Lab offers ample opportunities to researchers to participate in workshops, seminars, colloquia etc.

The Center for the Study of the Second Vatican Council

The Center for the Study of the Second Vatican Council consists of the conciliar documents of Belgian bishops and theologians, participating in the Council. The adjective Belgian refers both to those bishops and theologians being active in the country and the bishops and theologians who served the Church as missionaries. For a detailed survey of the material available at the Centre, see here.

See also the Willebrands papers, preserved in the Centre: they are an important instrument for all those who are involved in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue: DECLERCK, L., Inventaire des archives personnelles du Cardinal J. Willebrands, Secrétaire (1960-1969) et Président (1969-1989) du Secrétariat pour l’unité des chrétiens, Archevêque d’Utrecht (1975-1983)(Instrumenta Theologica, 35), Leuven, 2013.

Index Religiosus

Since 2013, the bibliographies of ETL and RHE merged to one “European” bibliography available online (within either Brepolis or KU Leuven). This bibliography aims at doing justice to research as done in Europe. In this regard, attention is paid to publications in French, Spanish, Italian, German (quite evidently next to publications in English).