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Vatican to make thousands of rare manuscripts available to public

Partnership with Japanese firm aims for 2018 target date

<p>An illustration from Dante's Divine Comedy by Sandro Botticelli (photo by CNS/Courtesy of the Vatican Library)</p>

An illustration from Dante's Divine Comedy by Sandro Botticelli (photo by CNS/Courtesy of the Vatican Library)

  • Francis X. Rocca for Catholic News Service, Vatican
  • Vatican City
  • March 21, 2014
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Thousands of rare manuscripts until now accessible only to scholars at the Vatican will go online over the next four years, thanks to help from a Japanese information technology company.

Officials of NTT DATA Corporation and the Vatican Library announced their joint project at a news conference on Thursday.

The library, founded by Pope Nicholas V in the 15th century, preserves some 82,000 manuscripts dating back to the early centuries of Christianity. Among its treasures are an illustrated edition of the works of the Roman poet Virgil, produced around the year 400, and illustrations of Dante's Divine Comedy by the 15th-century Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli.

The library has been scanning its collection for several years with help from various nonprofit groups, and has already digitally archived 6,800 manuscripts, said Msgr. Cesare Pasini, the library's prefect. But so far only some 300 documents are accessible on its website (vaticanlibrary.va).

NTT DATA Corporation will supply the technicians and equipment necessary to produce high-definition digital records of another 3,000 manuscripts and place them online over the next four years. The library will solicit donations to defray the estimated US$23 million cost of the project, among other ways by allowing contributors to sponsor digitalization of individual manuscripts.

The library plans to offer a total of 15,000 manuscripts online, free of charge to all visitors, by 2018.

Full story: Thousands of rare Vatican manuscripts to go online

Source: Catholic News Service

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