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Vatican to digitise manuscripts

Work 'will taken ten years'

23 March, 17:23
Vatican to digitise manuscripts (ANSA) - Vatican City, March 23 - The Vatican is set to start digitising the thousands of manuscripts in the Vatican Library, the Holy See's daily announced Tuesday.

"It is a grandiose project that will enrich culture while safeguarding and conserving the assets entrusted to the Vatican Library," l'Osservatore Romano said, adding that a pilot scheme was already under way.

The full digitisation project will take some ten years, it said.

The Vatican Library, one of the oldest in the world, contains some 75,000 manuscripts comprising more than 40 million pages including the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209, the oldest known nearly complete manuscript of the Bible. Another choice item is the Secret History of Procopius, a vitriolic and scabrous account of the 6th-century Roman Emperor Justinian, discovered in the library and published in 1623.

According to an urban legend, the library holds the largest collection of pornography in the world. In fact, it owns very few pornographic materials, mainly copies of works on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Index of Banned Books). There are also a few mildly erotic works of art, but very little since the Renaissance.

The library, which was formally established in 1475 but is in fact much older, was separated from the Vatican Secret Archives at the beginning of the 17th century.

The Secret Archives contain another 150,000 items including the full record of controversial WWII pope Pius XII whose publication is keenly awaited, as he moves towards sainthood, by experts divided over his alleged silence on the Holocaust.

The Vatican Library, which closed in 2007 for a renovation project scheduled for completion later this year, has started digitising 23 manuscripts comprising 75,000 pages as a "test bed", l'Ossservatore Romano said.

It said experts are using "extremely advanced" technology, first developed by NASA.

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