The Vatican Library as a Place for Research and as an Institution at the Service of Readers a long title indicating the dual purpose of the conference which opens today to mark the reopening of the Vatican Library: namely, to retrace, for the period of the last sixty years, the research which has taken place in this Library, and the life of the Library itself as reflected in its activities.
We have chosen to limit the scope to the period following the last World War, on the grounds that it is a homogeneous period which is sufficiently long and significant to reflect the developments following the pontificate of Pius XI, the Librarian Pope who, both as prefect and as pontiff, gave a decisive impetus to the Library in many ways, not least through major renovations.
Sixty years is a small fragment, the last one of a long road covering more than five and a half centuries, which I had the privilege of taking over, three years ago, from the hands of Prefect Raffaele Farina. These have been three anomalous years, due to the closure of the library to scholars; but I see them nonetheless as part of an uninterrupted journey: indeed, in view of our internal activities and of the work which we accomplished to prepare the refurbished Library for its reopening, I would say that it has not only continued but has been intensified. And much of the research performed by our readers has also been able to continue, at a distance, albeit in a more limited way than usual.
As we resume this journey, it is useful to take a look at what has been accomplished. Regarding research, each survey and synthesis which will be presented and offered for discussion here will be a positive stimulus to future research undertakings. As regards the activities of the Library, a presentation of what we have been doing will allow a better understanding of what happens behind the scenes and will facilitate an exchange of views which will be useful for decisions which are still to be made: our own and, hopefully, also those which are to be made by others.
I cannot anticipate what will be said, and thus I cannot anticipate the fruits that this encounter will produce or the conclusions that will be drawn. The point, in any case, to use the title of the exhibition which opened last night and will continue until the end of January 2011, is to come to know the Vatican Library in its history which is open to the future.
As I begin this enquiry, I would like to adopt the perspective of "knowing" the Apostolic Library in its identity and mission as it appears today, especially since the last World War. I could certainly have chosen to look at its history since its origins; but that would perhaps have been too broad a perspective for the present context; besides, it has been studied repeatedly and, as a result, its broad outlines are quite well known. By concentrating on the last sixty years, I shall try instead to capture, through the actions and thoughts of the Popes of the time period under consideration, the essence of the road that the Library itself has taken. This is a bird's eye survey, almost a mere collection of episodes and quotations, sometimes limited in their value and meaning; but which I hope will allow me to identify some specific characteristics for each period.
1. Pius XI (1922-1939)
Taking the last World War as our starting point, we find ourselves in the pontificate of Pius XII, following the well-known and influential papacy of Pius XI, which I have already mentioned. Let me report nonetheless, albeit in a limited way with almost anecdotal character, the interesting series of entries made in the Library Diary by the Prefect Giovanni Mercati on the occasion of the visits of Pope Pius XI during the building works. In particular, in 1928, the year of the construction of the first three floors of the stacks for printed books on the eastern side of the Cortile del Belvedere, Mercati lists visits on February 5; April 1; May 6 and 20; June 28; and is finally forced to use a more generic formula to describe the visits in the second half of the year: "July to December. The Holy Father has repeatedly gone down to see their work and to strongly encourage them to push forward." It is understood that these were all "working visits", in which the Pontiff checked the work being done, evaluated it and expressed informed operational decisions. At the end of the year, a clearly relieved Giovanni Mercati could write in the entry concerning the visit of December 20, when the work had been finished: "His Holiness was very happy, and everyone was struck by the great success of the work, despite the fact that it had been accomplished with great speed, indeed almost haste." Between the Prefect's lines we can read quite clearly the "strong encouragement to push forward," the "speed" and even the "haste" which the Pope - a former Prefect who still had something of the Prefect in him - was able to impress upon the workers and which Giovanni Mercati seems to have experienced with more than a little weariness! Of course, works in progress must be stimulated energetically, and we would not be here today to speak of the newly reopened Library, after the past three years of work, if Pius XI had not left us something of his spirit...
2. Pius XII (1939-1958)
To return now to Pope Pius XII, he does not seem to have had an especially remarkable relationship with the Library. So far as I know, he visited it only once, together with the Secret Archives, on Tuesday, April 11, 1944, after the severe bombing of central Italy, to see what had been collected and deposited in the two Vatican institutions from the valuable library of the monastery of Monte Cassino and from other similar collections of books and works of art. Reports of this visit mention the Pope's interest in the most significant holdings, of which a selection had been prepared for an exhibition in the Library and in the Archive.
This reminds us of the role of the Vatican Library as a place of safekeeping and, in this particular case, even as a refuge in times of emergency; which in turn brings us to the project, also linked to the pontificate of Pius XII in the 1950's, to reproduce in microfilm large sections of the manuscript collections of the Vatican Library and place them in the Vatican Film Library at Saint Louis University, in Missouri. This decision was understandable after the disasters of war and in the climate of "cold war" and of fear of nuclear war which was experienced in the decades following the Second World War. Both incidents I have mentioned, despite their different natures, seem to characterize the contribution of Pius XII to the Vatican Library in the name of defensive conservation, as emergency measures which were appropriate to the harshness of the times. It also seems that this Pope, who was well acquainted with the Vatican's institutions since his service as Secretary of State to Pius XI, had a relationship of institutional trust regarding the regular accomplishment of the tasks ascribed to each entity.
It is these very tasks which are also described, at least once, in the audience which Pius XII granted on May 15, 1957 to members of Bayerische Bibliotheksschule of Munich: he specifically mentions the Scriptores and their work for the Library, their research and cataloguing; the considerably enlarged Photographic Laboratory and the School of Library Science which had been added to the Library. Also mentioned is the opening in 1892 of the Sala Leonina for consultation of printed books, which facilitated the study of manuscripts and was accessible also to readers of the Vatican Secret Archive: an arrangement, remarks the Pope, which had led to a sharp increase in the collections of the Library. The short summary of this discussion shows that the purely institutional relationship of trust between the Pope and the Library does not appear to have meant, for him, a keeping of distance, but entailed rather an intimate knowledge of the Library and an appreciation for its presence, and also for the Archives, in the field of scientific historical research. The mention of the School of Library Science also signals the interest of Pius XI for this institution, which was founded in 1934 by his predecessor, who had inaugurated a room for it in 1941 and had granted an audience to its members, along with those of the Scuola Pontificia di Paleografia Diplomatica e Archivistica, on June 15 of the following year.
3. John XXIII (1958-1963)
During his short pontificate, Pope John XXIII made three visits to the library, of which the most important was the first, on June 19, 1959. It was a long and detailed visit, lasting over two hours and including all the offices: the secretariat, the School of Library Science, the stacks for printed books, the Bursar's office, the Accessions Office, the Cataloguing Rooms, the Reading Room for Printed Books, the Sala Barberini, the Reading Room for Manuscripts, the Photographic and Restoration Laboratories, and the Medagliere. As we learn from reports of the visit, the Holy Father showed particular interest in the card catalogue of printed books, which was a result of the innovations introduced at the time of Pius XI in cooperation with North American librarians; in fact, he wished to personally search the catalogue for a book, namely Codex Diplomaticus Civitatis, et Ecclesiae Bergomatis (Bergamo 1784-1799), have it brought to him and thus - as he himself put it - "to experience directly the functioning of the catalogue itself and of book distribution, just as readers do as they pursue their research."
The two subsequent visits were less significant: about a year later, on Sunday, July 3, 1960, he came to see the Museo Sacro, evidently overlooked for topographical reasons in June 1959. The only mention of this visit is in the Papal Agendas, with a simple remark on the "great joy" he experienced in seeing these rooms after an interval of sixty years; and on the fact that, as he put it, "it did not weary me in the least." Finally, on February 22, 1962, he was present at the opening of the new premises of the Indici di Iconografia dell'Arte Cristiana, on the ground floor of the Library: he stayed for about an hour, taking an interest even in the most minute aspects of the occasion.
The interest of John XXIII for the Library is visible, in the three circumstances I have mentioned, in his tendency to tarry, feeling so much at ease that he felt no weariness; it is also confirmed by his decision, on July 17, 1959, to place the so-called "Statue of Hippolytus" in the entrance of the library. To be precise, the statue was actually returning to the Library, having been moved to the Lateran Museum in the nineteenth century; but this choice nonetheless symbolized a link to the Proto-Christian period, during which the saint whose likeness the statue was thought to contain had lived, and thus revealed a particular attention to history. Furthermore, it is not difficult to imagine that the Pope's attention to the Vatican Library (and to the Secret Archives) was in the spirit of the historian he had always been, and of the humble scholar, the one who requested, during his first visit, a volume which was connected to his decades of research on the Church of Bergamo. It is not for nothing that, upon his death, he left the library a small collection dedicated to the history of Bergamo, which was at once a sign of his commitment to research and a delicate attention to the Library.
4. Paul VI (1963-1978)
With Paul VI we not only enter a pontificate with a longer duration in time and filled with many visits to the Library, but we come also to a lively discussion about the meaning and role of the institution. We find references to the Library in his two main visits, one at the beginning of his pontificate on 8 June, 1964 and one on the occasion of the fifth centenary of the Library (as it was then computed), on June 20, 1975, as well as in the audience of October 23, 1975, granted to participants at the International Conference of the Vatican Library marking this anniversary. But other signs are found in speeches such as the one in which Paul VI, on June 28, 1969, presented to the Library the Bodmer Papyrus VIII, containing the letters of St. Peter; or the one held when, in the Salone Sistino, he inaugurated the exhibitions on Le livre de la Bible (March 25, 1972) and on St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure (July 9, 1974); or when he made reference to the exhibition of ancient Latin manuscripts in the Salone Sistino during the audience granted on April 16, 1973 to participants in the IXth International Congress of the Association Guillaume Budé; or, finally, in the words the Pope addressed to the Cardinal Librarian Eugène Tisserant on March 24, 1964 in the Sala dei Pontefici of the Appartamento Borgia, on the occasion of a meeting celebrating his eightieth birthday.
To grasp the thinking of Paul VI on the Vatican Library it is important, and sufficient, to examine the speeches delivered during his two main visits. But I want to start with a quote from the last speech I mentioned, the one for Cardinal Tisserant, in which, referring to the honoree, he gives a portrait of the scholar at work which is an appropriate backdrop to any consideration of the Library: "We know what hard work, what renunciation, what patience, what rectitude, what selflessness, what love of knowledge is required for total and persistent dedication to higher studies, which must by their very nature be long and thus become dry and thankless; the need to unearth new materials of erudition often causes the vivacity of thought and the liberty of artistic expression to languish; forcing the mind to patiently undertake accurate analysis, it puts a brake on the spirit's flight towards the final, all-encompassing synthesis of culture. We therefore cannot fail to acknowledge and express gratitude to those who have devoted to scholarship a great talent, a great deal of energy, an entire lifetime, and who, through an abnegation full of love for truth and for the Church, have produced books or other achievements worthy of the emulation and admiration of scholars."
But when a reader crosses the threshold of the Vatican Library, what does he find there? First of all, the great treasures of humanity. This is why Paul VI, during his visit in 1964, expressed a "feeling […] of veneration, of respect for what is collected and preserved in the Library, which is not a cemetery, because everything in it speaks, lives, throbs as it were with the scholarship which brings new life to this immense heritage of human expression, of history, of culture, of the past as it converses with those who know how to hear and understand its mysterious voice." These documents were in fact life itself; but they also "come alive" again thanks to the scholarship of those who approach them: this is precisely the significance of research, which is nothing but the fruitful result of the effort described in the speech for Cardinal Tisserant.
Anyone who enters the Library must find, in addition to the "treasures" preserved there, also a spirit of welcoming, of universality, as expressed by Pope on the occasion of his visit in 1975: "The Vatican Library is open to scholars of any provenance, ignoring even the boundaries set by the Catholic faith and admitting scholars of different religious convictions; but above all it works to enhance its specific and often unique heritage, all the while keeping up with today's seemingly endless amount of publications and books." Its task thus encompasses all the work of the Library, work which the Library's staff undertake to perform perfectly: this is why the Pope declared, during his visit in 1964, that he found in his listeners "a feeling of interest, a concern with making everything perfect, with modernizing, restoring and repairing, because we are dealing with matters where perfection in every respect, in keeping, classifying and granting access, becomes the librarian's profession itself, his commitment, his daily duty."
In the eyes of Paul VI, as he remarks later in the same speech, this form of service becomes a kind of ascetic, almost monastic work: "This activity is much admired for the ascetic virtues which it both produces and requires, because one cannot accomplish such a scholarly task, especially at the level required by the Vatican Library, and with absolute professional dedication, if one has not overcome a number of obstacles, including internal ones, such as the desire and aspiration for the sort of career which the modern world dangles before the eyes of those who contemplate it. His Holiness wishes to impress upon his audience that they must consider themselves as monks, that is, persons devoted to scientific thought and to culture; and this is what defines lives which are dedicated to so noble a mission." One hears once again, in these sentences, an echo of words spoken to Cardinal Tisserant; but they also offer an anticipated expression of another idea, which is the most important and the most profound aspect of the thought of Paul VI, namely that which consists of recognizing and respecting the intrinsic validity and the autonomy of research as such, and thus of finding a sort of "sacred" character in the search for truth itself. He describes this search as the connection between the task of the Church and "the study of each epiphany of truth," to recall the expression he used on the day of the arrival in the Library of the Bodmer codex, "whether it be known through reasoning or through revelation;" he then goes further, perceiving even the presence of Christ himself in the fragments of truth which research and study bring to light historical documents.
Here is how Paul VI describes these steps in his speech of 1964, starting from the first level, in which one hears, applied to the Church (an expert in humanity), the famous sentence of Terence: Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto, or, to express it in language with a more "Biblical" imprint, the vocation which makes the Church open, in a "catholic" manner, to everything beautiful, good, noble, or worthy which Humanity has produced over the centuries: "To the question whether this is a task for the Church, there can be no doubt that the answer is affirmative: there is a kind of ecumenism of culture, and the Church has opened the doors wide open and has made available its books and microfilms, has spared no effort to promote the dissemination of culture, with the goal of making it both more precise and more widely available. Whatever is human, produced, printed and disseminated by man, the Church welcomes it. This is a testimony to its motherhood, to the universality of its spirit: nothing seem foreign to it, it cannot be indifferent to anything: its eyes are open to every human phenomenon, even those lesser ones which are fit only to be relegated -- like poisons in a pharmacy - to the restricted access area. […] The Church wishes - as it has demonstrated by its actions - that the truth be known, that the work of God, the interpretation of the divine thought which is imprinted in things, in events, in souls, in intelligence, be made evident, that it emerge also from the parchments, the documents, the manuscripts, which are nothing but expressions of art and culture."
But there is more, because the wish of the Church extends, the Pope says, to "a final and spiritual end: that all may become a voice, a hymn, and ascend - perhaps confusedly and unconsciously at first - as praise to God, in recognition of the Word who rains his own intelligence and knowability on human affairs. Studying in this way, and working silently in this way, is another form of testimony to Christ." These words echo the thoughts expressed by Justin Martyr as early as the second century, when he called for recognition of the "seeds" of the divine Logos which are present in the logos-reason which is wonderfully scattered throughout ancient Greek culture. To translate this into a more contemporary terminology, we can affirm that all partial truths, whether historical or philological, descend and are connected to the highest Truth, which is God. As a result, a cultural mission, like that of the Vatican Library, seen in this wider context, without imposing anything on research or in any way manipulating or abusing it, ultimately becomes a religious mission, one of submission to the ultimate Truth, which is divine.
5. John Paul II (1978-2005)
The long pontificate of Pope John Paul II included numerous occasions of contact with the Vatican Library, most notably for the opening of several exhibitions: first, only a few months after his election, on May 8, 1979, the exhibition Testimoni dello Spirito ("Witnesses to the Spirit") with the autographs offered to Paul VI for his eightieth birthday; then, on May 30, 1985, the exhibition Dante in Vaticano; on October 23, 1990, an exhibition dedicated to St. Ignatius for the five-hundredth anniversary of his birth; and, on April 6, 1993, the exhibition Nuevo Mundo for the fifth centenary of discovery of America. To these visits may be added the one on April 11, 1986, for the inauguration of the new doors of the Library and Archives; and also a letter to the Cardinal Librarian, dated June 21, 2000, on the occasion of the exhibition I vangeli dei popoli ("The Gospels of the Peoples"). But the two principal moments of encounter were the visit of February 7, 1984, when the new Manuscript Stacks were inaugurated; and the audience granted to the Library and Archive staff in the Sala Clementina on January 15, 1999.
However, the thinking of Pope John Paul II already emerges clearly in the visit of 1979, when he opened the exhibition of autographs offered to Paul VI. He invites us to look beyond the manuscript to the man who wrote it and who "is present" in it: "Above all else, in these hand-written pages, written now with nervous rapidity, now with calm serenity, there is the presence of man: the man who, as he traces a symbol, intends to communicate either with himself, to analyze and understand himself better; or with others, to communicate and manifest to them his own ideas and feelings; or with God, to pray to him with trembling anguish or with unassuming humility. Man is present in these manuscripts, man in all the complex variety of his life, of his aspirations for truth, goodness, beauty, justice and love." The Pope's thinking then goes beyond the specific task of the librarian, to recall - citing the programmatic encyclical of his pontificate (Redemptor hominis, 10) - that "this man, or rather these men, whose witness is jealously preserved so that it can be fully passed on to posterity, deserves the Church's respect, because the Church is aware that its fundamental task is to 'direct man's gaze, to point the consciousness and the experience of all of humanity, towards the mystery of Christ; to allow all mankind to become familiar with the profundity of the Redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
Placed in this scenario, the treasures of Humanity which are kept in the Library are understood within the more global ecclesial task of the evangelization of culture: culture which is "human", but especially culture which sees in Christ the most authentic foundation of humanity. The starting point of this reflection is thematically related to the reflection of Paul VI, which connected all truth to the highest Truth, which is God. On the other hand, it also evokes the humanistic spirit which has characterized the Vatican Library since the beginning and which sees Man as the indispensable point of reference for all research: his rationality, his spiritual reality, his dignity. This is why, as John Paul II noted during his 1984 visit, without belittling in any way the daily activities of the Library which "have as their goal the promotion of knowledge and scholarship and the protection of cultural heritage in its broadest sense," it is a requirement "of human culture to give higher priority, beyond that accorded to tangible and empirical knowledge, to rational and metaphysical knowledge, to that of religion and of the spirit; in other words, to faith."
Therefore, continued the Pontiff, a truly human culture - since the Library is open to all scholars "without distinction of race, ideology or religion, provided they are pursuing true scholarship, are truly working for the service of mankind" - will lead to an adequate conception and to the proper construction of a human society. Indeed, "it was those humanistic disciplines", those which were cultivated with humanistic spirit in the Vatican Library and elsewhere, "which in the past came together to form a common cultural denominator, one which even today, in modernized form, continues its service to that mutual understanding and international collaboration to which all peoples aspire and are committed. [...] It is precisely in the nature of the humanities to establish the proper hierarchy of values, ordering the universe of man and nature in the service of peace. And it is especially in this service to the benefit of mankind, to mutual intellectual understanding, to peace and to the pursuit of faith, that the activity of the Apostolic Library is called to make a distinguished contribution."
The final sentence forms a bridge to John Paul II's other major speech, held in 1999. I focus on his invitation to identify, in the work of the staff of the Archives and of the Library, the aspect of evangelization of culture or, as he puts it, of a "new evangelization of culture." He explains that "we must find a way to communicate to the men and women of culture, and, perhaps more importantly, to the circles where our current culture is elaborated and passed on, the values that we have received from the Gospel, along with those which arise from a true humanism, noting that the two are, in fact, closely related. Indeed, if the Gospel teaches us the absolute primacy of God and salvation in Christ the Lord alone, this is also the only way to appreciate, respect and truly love the creation called man, made in the image of God and called to be part of the mystery of the Son of God made man. Now, the precious materials which are preserved, studied and made available in the Library and Archives are a living testimony, as it were, to the Church's constant proclamation of the Gospel values, which are the proponents of true humanism. [...] You contribute significantly to creating the conditions whereby men and women who are engaged in the cultural sphere may find the road that leads to their Creator and Savior, and so to the full realization of their specific vocation in this time of transition between the second and the third millennium."
Two aspects engage and connect with each other here: one which has already been noted repeatedly, according to which everything that is human refers to and repeats the whole Truth; and another, specifically pointed out by John Paul II, which is to help every man, every student of history, to take "the road that leads them to their Creator and Savior, and so to the full realization of their specific vocation." The first aspect places us in dialogue with all people of good will; the second aspect reminds us of the grace of a mission that was entrusted to us.
I end this survey on the threshold of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, from whom we have heard a speech on June 25, 2007, addressed to the Library and Archives, on the eve of the refurbishment of the Library, as well as the Message which was just read here. We accept with gratitude, and as an effective encouragement, the constant interest which the Holy Father has shown, during these three years, in the work as it progressed.
From the interventions of the previous popes - if I may be allowed to attempt a synthesis - has emerged a wealth of thought and action: the direct intervention of Pius XI in bringing the major renovations of the Library to a happy conclusion; the institutional relationship of Pius XII in a period of grave wartime and post-war emergency; the interest taken by John XXIII as a historical scholar who was at home in a library; the reflections of Paul VI, so eager to grasp the character of the researcher and the ascetic demands of work the Library, and so acutely perceptive of the "secular sacredness" of the "study of any epiphany of truth" and so of the mysterious connection to the highest Truth which transforms research into an implicit "hymn to God"; and finally the deeper reflections of John Paul II, focusing on Man: the man who drafted the document and the man in whose service research must place itself in order to be authentic; man and his quest to find his ultimate meaning in the truth of Creator and Redeemer, as Paul VI suggested; and the subsequent call to give assistance to each researcher towards achieving this ultimate goal.
Taken together, these interventions thus amount to a multi-faceted contribution to knowledge of the Vatican Library, its reality and its "mystery" in its many facets: a knowledge which is perceived by us all, though we come from many different places and play many different parts, and which will manifest itself in all its variety also in the speeches that follow.
However, I do not want to conclude this introduction to the conference without indicating - though this is little more than a list! - the tools and initiatives that we have recently completed or have been in the process of completing in recent weeks, with the goal of facilitating this knowledge. By cultivating these initiatives, I think we are in line with a call that I found well expressed in the speech given in 1964 by Paul VI: "The essence of such a demanding activity is not only to collect, categorize, and sort such valuable materials according to a criterion of perfection, but also to make it accessible according to the motto that Nicholas V wished to be placed in his library: Pro communi doctorum virorum commodo: in other words, for the extension of culture."
As is well known, the library makes its materials accessible through scientific publications: this is its specific task, its means of dissemination. And among the many works recently published or now in press, I would like to assure you that the coming weeks will see the publication of the Guida ai fondi manoscritti, numismatici, a stampa della Biblioteca VaticanaVaticana ("Guide to the Collections of Manuscripts, Coins and Printed Books in the Vatican Library"), edited by Francesco D'Aiuto and Paolo Vian: a long-awaited research tool which will be presented to the public in its own right but whose appearance I am pleased to be able to announce here as imminent, thanks to the work of the editors and of the numerous contributors.
We also wish to express this service to knowledge in other ways, so as to reach different audiences. We realize that the Vatican Library is very well known and understood among scholars around the world, but also that it is relatively unknown or, sometimes, misunderstood by the general public. This was the origin of the idea of a History of the Vatican Library, in seven volumes which will tell the story of our centuries-old institution to an interested but not necessarily expert readership. I am proud to present today the first volume, on Le origini della Biblioteca Vaticana tra Umanesimo e Rinascimento (1447-1534) ("The Origins of the Vatican Library in the High to Late Renaissance"), edited by Antonio Manfredi and with contributions by many scholars, both staff members and outside collaborators. The same goal of reaching a wider audience was also at the origin of the exhibition Conoscere la Biblioteca Vaticana: una storia aperta al futuro("Knowing the Vatican Library: a Story Open to the Future"), curated by Barbara Jatta. It opened yesterday, with a catalogue edited by Ambrogio M. Piazzoni and again Barbara Jatta, again with the contribution of numerous collaborators. These initiatives - along with other minor ones such as the new brochure; an agenda for 2011 with illustrations drawn from our treasures; and a publication on the building works which has been undertaken by the Company Italcementi, which generously sponsored the works - have required a great deal of energy and now serve to mark the reopening the Library, together with the Conference that we are inaugurating here.
I should have liked to be able to link the reopening also to the launch, in definitive form, of our manuscript digitization project. Since the project was announced nearly eight months ago, on March 24, after about two years of preparatory work, various interesting means have been proposed for raising the substantial funds which will be needed to make it operational. We can not only say that we have not been idly waiting for something to happen, but also that the many roads which have been taken into consideration, and partially explored, have given us hope that a solution is not far off. In any case, the work which has been accomplished, with the help of Seret, Autonomy, Metis and E4, has allowed us to have 126 manuscripts now ready, for a total of 28,000 captured images. And we are eager to show the fruit of what has been accomplished and share it with scholars by making these images available for consultation, at low resolution, on the web, as soon as possible, while taking account of the time required for such operations. This will also be a service rendered to knowledge, and no doubt a most welcome one, as well as being an appropriate conservation measure.
I wish to close with an expression which came to me suddenly as I was writing some introductory pages for the exhibition catalog. I referred to what I like to call the "family" constituted by the staff of the Apostolic Library as "a beautiful family, full of people who are motivated, well prepared, dedicated and convinced of their mission, and joined together in a challenging and fruitful collaboration." I would like to extend this positive and grateful outlook - one which does not deny difficulties or conflicts but also does not allow itself to be overwhelmed or disturbed by them - also to the "family" constituted by the scholars and friends who are so well represented here. Thank you all.