National Libraries and Museums

Bologna, Palermo, and other cities nearby are the seat of libraries, institutions, and archives of interest for Religious Studies.

Libraries, Digital Resources, and Study Rooms at the University of Bologna

The University of Bologna has a wide network of facilities, library and documentary services providing support for studies, teaching, research, professional and cultural activities.

The Bologna University Library, in particular, with its important collections of antique and modern books, is the University’s central library, offering general library services, conservation, and historical and scientific research facilities. Among its digitalized resources are: the Ancient Sefer Torah of Bologna, the most ancient, complete Pentateuch scroll known to date which was rediscovered at the Library in 2013. The scroll, which was probably copied in Northern Iberia in ca. 1200 CE, contains letters with special shapes and tagin linking its production with a Jewish milieu which associated the scribal tradition with mystical and esoteric meanings; the catalogue of the Library of Pope Benedict XIV; the Papyri Bononienses, a collection of Greek and Latin papyri from the Ptolemaic, Roman and Byzantine periods, acquired in 1930 from an antiquarian in Cairo; 51 Greek manuscripts coming from the collection of the scientist Luigi Ferdinando Marsili (1658-1730) and the monastery of the canons regular of the SS. Salvatore in Bologna; 450 Arabic manuscripts, more than half of which in Arabic characters in the Library (Turkish, Persian), that date from the 13th to the 18th century and cover a wide range of subjects.

Museo Nazionale dell’Ebraismo Italiano e della Shoah (MEIS), Ferrara

The National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah (MEIS) holds a collection of objects, documents and photographs that bear witness to the two thousand years old presence of Jews in Italy. Unlike the majority of museum institutions, the MEIS was established first in its mission and then pursued a policy of acquisitions. Today the collection is made up of objects from numerous private donations, in particular the Gianfranco Moscati Fund, a miscellany of more than 3,000 items, mostly documents, which shed light on the history of the Jews of Italy, stands out for its variety and interest.

Officina di Studi Medievali (OSM), Palermo

The Officina di Studi Medievali (OSM) is a publishing house and cultural association that has been active in Palermo since 1980 in the research and promotion of culture at national and international level. Founded by a group of scholars and enthusiasts of the Middle Ages, it is committed to developing multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary study in the field of medieval studies. The main research areas that OSM has cultivated and enriched over the years are: the metaphysical tradition; the history of medieval ideas and knowledge in all its expressions; the comparison of cultural traditions in the Mediterranean area in the medieval period (i.e. the Arab and Islamic world, Latin and Christian, Jewish, Greek and Byzantine); the history of Middle Latin literature; archival, palaeolographic, diplomatic and historical studies. The Library of the OSM has been formed and consolidated over the years thanks also to exchanges of publications with legal entities that carry out activities similar to those of OSM, both nationally and internationally. To date it has over 42,000 volumes and a newspaper library of over 284 Italian and foreign periodicals. The Library is constantly being increased with the purchase of volumes, also from private individuals at excellent economic conditions, as well as with gifts, book exchanges and volumes received directly from publishing houses interested in reviews and readings that appear in the scientific journals published by OSM.

Church Libraries and Archives in Venice

Many valuable libraries and archival collections for Religious Studies are available in Venice. Some of them are: Library of S. Francesco della Vigna; the Armenian Library in San Lazzaro; the Historical Archive and the Library of the Seminary of the Patriarchate of Venice.

Biblioteca di San Francesco della Vigna. The Library of S. Francesco della Vigna is an ecclesiastical library owned by the Province of St. Anthony of the Friars Minor. It collects, preserves and catalogues the Venetian book heritage of the Province of St. Anthony of the Friars Minor so that it may be enhanced and made accessible to all, as a testimony of Christian faith and Franciscan life. Its specialisation is in the religious field with particular attention to ecumenism and Franciscanism.

Biblioteca degli Armeni dell’isola di San Lazzaro. One of the world’s first centres of Armenian culture, the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni is home to the Monastery of the Armenian monks of the Mekhitarist Order who settled here in 1717. The Armenian community guards an impressive cultural heritage collected and produced over decades. With an in-house printing house, a library that still contains rare manuscripts and a number of works of art of enormous value donated by the faithful and devotees, San Lazzaro degli Armeni is a treasure chest of inestimable value.

Archivio storico del Patriarcato di Venezia. The Historical Archive of the Patriarchate of Venice is located in the Patriarchal Seminary of Venice. Until spring 2015 it was located in a wing on the third floor of the former Benedictine monastery of Santi Felice e Fortunato di Ammiana inside St Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace across the Rio di Palazzo. It is part of the Historical Archives of the Church of Venice. The Patriarchate Archives holds the records of the Curia of the Patriarchate, and the other ecclesiastical institutions of the Patriarchate, such as the bishop’s refectory, the chapter of St. Peter and St. Mark, and the seminary. It also preserves the records of the Primicerius of St. Mark’s and of the Ancient Lagoon Episcopates, the suppressed dioceses of the lagoon, as well as numerous municipal archives, monastery archives and confraternities. Finally, it preserves its own acts, which it lends to individual organisations, priests or lay people. The catalogue can be consulted online at Biblioteca Marciana.

Biblioteca del Seminario Patriarcale di Venezia. The Library of the Patriarchal Seminary began with the transfer of the Seminary to Palazzo Longhena alla Salute in 1819. To the primitive collection deriving from the bequest to the Venetian clergy by Patriarch Federico Giovanelli (1799), the library’s patrimony gradually expanded, enriching itself with works from suppressed monasteries and convents, from the bequests of Patriarchs, priests or of Venetian nobles. Today the Library consists of approximately 120,000 printed volumes and pamphlets, 72 incunabula, 1637 sixteenth-century editions and 1350 manuscripts.

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