March 19, 2011.
For two centuries, more than 6,000 manuscripts and codices of the Roman
College, the current Gregorian University in Rome, were kept hidden
behind a wall. It's now been made available to the public through the
cataloging and digitizing efforts by its new director, the Argentinian
Martin Morales.Martín Morales
Director, Pontifical Gregorian University Historical Archive“The Historical Archives of the Gregorian University, which is unique in its own right, preserves the history of Jesuit education since the opening of the Roman College in 1551 until today. No other university can show a continuous record of teaching for nearly five centuries.”
The documents, most of them unpublished manuscripts, are a testament to the intellectual activity of the Jesuits since 1551.
When they were expelled in 1773, the files were hidden for safekeeping. One hundred years later, they were discovered by the librarian of the National Library in Rome. Currently, half of them are in the National Library of Rome and the rest at the Gregorian University.
It's an exciting source of documentation on the history of the Church, as the codices and newspapers of the Council of Trent are also in the archive.
In addition to hundreds of lessons in rhetoric, philosophy, grammar, theology and studies on Latin and Greek classics, one can also find early writings on how to make watches and eyeglasses from the German Jesuit Christopher Clavius, who also gave us the current Gregorian calendar. Clavius maintained an extensive correspondence with Galileo and these letters are also part of the documents.
You can also see the first topographic maps of China made by the Jesuit D'Elia and documents on the missions to Asia.
Two years ago, the work began of cataloging and digitizing the files. An extensive and meticulous job that was supervised by the Italian Professor Irene Pedretti. Irene Pedretti
Historical Archive, Pontifical Gregorian University“The 6,000 codices of the old collection were cataloged in a very synthetic way in a topographic inventory. We began two years ago, thanks to collaboration with the University of La Sapienza, to more accurately condense the data of each manuscript with special attention to the structural elements, making a thorough analysis of each work.”
As they are being cataloged, they also get entered into a network, where 120 other Italian libraries share files related to the Jesuits. It's a job that will simplify the work of researchers and historians who will now have at their fingertips an archive full of a history yet to be written on.