Friday, October 24, 2014

Digital Vatican

You may or may not be aware, the Vatican is digitizing its collections.

Think about this a moment.

There are things in the Vatican collections which are entirely unique. Hundreds of years old. Fascinating and beautiful and even, dare I say, education and/or informational. And they're digitizing it. I cannot begin to describe my joy. 4000 manuscripts. It's too much to ever get to, I'm sure, but it's there and I'm happy. It's one of those things I think about sometimes; the Vatican contains so much history, which hardly anybody is able to scratch the surface of. Access is limited (though I confess I don't know the full details of this. I'm sure scholars are permitted to do research there. I'm sure showing up at the Vatican and saying "let me in, I'm Catholic!" though true, would not just let me in.)

The Oxford library (the Bodlein Library specifically) has also made some of its super old manuscripts available online, for free.

Another fantastically amazing religious book which is available to view online now is the Gigas Codex, which translates to "Giant Book", but is also referred to colloquially as the Devil's Bible. It's the "real" Bible, as it were, in Latin [of varying dialects], but also contains a big huge picture of the devil, and then other non-Christian-Bible style documents. Oh yeah, and legend has it that it was written by a monk who traded his soul to the Devil so the book would be finished in one night, like some kind of fucked up Christmas Carol. National Geographic did a neat documentary on it, and it really is a huge book. Like, coffee table sized.

Pope Francis actually puts quite a lot of emphasis on the Devil, mentioning him in speeches fairly frequently. I confess I haven't really paid attention to prior popes' speeches, so I'm not familiar with all of the content. It could be that secular media are just blown away that we Catholics still believe in such things, I don't know. This year in May was the 9th annual Exorcism and Prayer for Liberation conference in Rome, and Pope Francis has only been pope since 2013, so clearly the Devil has still been in mind.

Though I don't think you need me to tell you I think Pope Francis is a rock star. Calling out a Bishop for spending millions on his official residence? Not picking up the red leather shoes the former Pope Benedict had made for him? Auctioning his own Harley (and leather jacket) for charity?


  1. That is very cool. And a major undertaking. I wonder how long of a process this will take. :)

    1. Years, it must take years. There are going to be religious librarian orders devoted to the digital preservation of the super old manuscripts, and be always in those archival gloves, the better to handle such fragile things. Though I might be getting into A Canticle for Leibowitz territory here.