Monday, July 26, 2010

Vatican Brick-and-Mortar Library Reopening This Fall

Both of my parents were, among other things, librarians. One of the few things I miss, living in a small town in central Minnesota, is ready access to university libraries.

Part of my feeling at home in the back stacks of a library comes, I think, from my parents. Part of it comes from my interest in three things:
  • That which exists within the universe
  • That which exist beyond
  • That which might exist
Happily, the Internet gives me access to a vast storehouse of data.

One of the places I visit fairly often is the Holy See's website, last I checked, it's available in Deutsch, English, Español, Français, Italiano, Latine, and Português. I know: That's a rather narrow selection of languages. But the odds are that if what you speak at home isn't on the list, you understand at least one of that set. I've written about languages and the Internet in another blog.

Vatican Secret Archives: Online

I suspect that someone with a wry sense of humor put "Vatican Secret Archives" on the Vatican's English-language home page. I think there's a dry sort of humor there, anyway.

I grew up in a virulently anti-Catholic part of America. My parents weren't Catholic, but they weren't anti-Catholic either. I think the nuns who were determined to not let my mother die as an infant had a hand in that. And that's another story.

The same folks who are convinced that the Pope is the Antichrist or at least in league with Satan, tend to be convinced that those nasty foreigners in the Vatican have all sorts of secret papers and stuff like that. (a little more about that in a footnote to a November 12, 2008, post)

It's true, sort of. There are a vast number of documents stored at the Vatican. Including one, from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, titled "The Church and the Internet." A great number of the "secret" documents of the Church are available online: many in English translation.

The Church Online: We're There, and We're Learning

Although some of the Holy See's efforts to engage people online have been criticized, I think that the Catholic Church is doing fairly well. From my point of view, it's impressive that this nearly-2,000-year-old institution has put so many of its documents online, and is making an effort to develop new procedures that will accurately and effectively present Catholic teachings in this rapidly-evolving online culture.

Put another way: There's more involved with setting up something like (May 26, 2009), than there is in running a chat service for Lindsay Lohan fans.

It Started With Three Computers

I remember, back in 1997, when the Vatican's Internet Office went online with three servers: Gabriel, Michael and Raphael. I'd like to think that quite a few Catholics would recognize those as the names of archangels - but that's another topic.

There's a pretty good writeup of another milestone in the Vatican's online presence at "Second Vatican Web Site Will Debut in the Fall" (September 12, 2005).

There's Virtually Nothing Like Being There

What got me started was an item in today's news. The Apostolic Vatican Library is scheduled to reopen in the fall. It's a pretty big deal. The CNA article ends with this:
"...A week before the date chosen for this fall's inauguration, the Vatican librarian, Cardinal Raffaele Farina, will present the entirety of the project in a press conference. He will also highlight future plans for the facilities, including the next item of business: remodeling the Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library to be a reading room.

"The first major initiative set to take place in the library this fall, according to the library's newsletter, is a conference in November to examine it as 'a place for research and as an institution at the service of scholarship.' "
And yes: the Vatican Library is online, too: Which is a happy circumstance for me, since I'm unlikely to ever be on that side of the Atlantic.

In the news:


Brigid said...

Considering how old some of the people in charge at the Vatican are, I'm amazed at the success they've had getting the Church online. And "Secret Archives" hehehehe.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


Indeed. The Holy See's 'senior staff' really is senior. First, it takes time to rise through the ranks of a global organization. Second, we haven't - thank God - bought into the West's worship of youth. Which is another topic.

And yeah: that "Secret Archives" is chortleable.

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.