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Vatican to digitize 3,000 library manuscripts

Overall 82,000 in line, minus Secret Archives

20 March, 15:13
Vatican to digitize 3,000 library manuscripts (ANSA) - Vatican City, March 20 - An estimated 3,000 manuscripts of the Vatican Apostolic Library will be digitized over the next four years by Japanese firm Ntt Data, the first step in the planned digitization of all the 82,000 manuscripts preserved in the library, Church officials announced Thursday. "Our project means to be part of an overall plan for the entire, immense range of our manuscripts which could lead to the digitization of 40 million pages," said Mons. Cesare Pasini, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library.

The full digitization project is expected to take some 10 years.

The Vatican Library, one of the oldest in the world, contains some of the world's most prized manuscripts, 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, the publication of which is keenly awaited, as he moves towards sainthood, by experts divided over his alleged silence on the Holocaust.