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Rome Reports

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Vatican digitizes more than 7 million photos from archives

These millions of snapshots from public and private moments of the popes are at risk of being lost if damaged. These photos have a great importance, such as this one of Pius XII before the damage from the bombing of the Roman district of San Lorenzo in 1943. Or this photo, when John Paul II met with Ali Agca, the Turkish terrorist who tried to assassinate him in 1981. Fr. Giuseppe Colombara Director, Photographic Service L?Osservatore RomanoSome years ago, we confirmed some damage was done to the photographs, we then found the need to overcome these difficulties and save these images. The problem was financing the project.” Now, however, money is not a problem, thanks to the support of two sponsors who donated two million euros.The process will take about five years which includes the digitization of photographs, as well as the renovation of some rooms to create a microclimate that will protect the paper photos from its main enemies of light, bacteria, and the passage of time.Fr. Giuseppe ColombaraDirector, Photographic Service L?Osservatore Romano“The direct light is also one of the most damaging agents of photographs, even though the film has already been developed, because the negative is a very sensitive type of support. It?s the same as a gelatin coated film. When you vary some of these atmospheric components, as well as bacteria and acids from hand contact, it makes it more difficult in this process of care.”This is the most advanced technology used in the care of this photographic heritage, documenting the Church?s history, humanity, and the Vatican. BR/AE AM HC-WP