Inauguration of the General Library and Archives of the Custody   2013/03/06
By: JJ

JERUSALEM – The General Library and Archives of the Custody of the Holy Land in the Convent of St. Saviour in Jerusalem was inaugurated on Thursday, February 28, 201.

The archives of the Custody of the Holy Land are among the most important in the Catholic world of the Middle East. By reason of age, they represent “the historical memory of the life of the Franciscans in the Holy Places and their guardians,” in the words of Father Narcyz Klimas, the Custodial archivist. The Custody archives actually tell the story of the Franciscans from the time of the Crusades until the present. Father Marcello Badalamenti, custodial librarian, explained, how, from the beginning of the thirteenth century when they settled in the Holy Land, the Franciscans already had books. The first library probably existed in the mid-fourteenth century.

After the inauguration of the Archives and General Custodial Library, we can now admire documents of great value, such as a *Firman dated 1247, papal bulls or the register of pilgrims since 1561. There is also the register of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, established since 1561, up until 1847, the date of the restoration of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Books as “Bridges for Peace”

One of the wishes of Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land and those who worked on this project, is to ensure that the General Library of the Custody becomes more a meeting place and a window for researchers coming from different backgrounds. A wish that books can be “bridges of peace.” ATS Pro Terra Sancta,” an NGO of the Custody of the Holy Land, which supported this inauguration, and the cataloging and valuation activities of these archives, has also called this project “Books: Bridges for Peace.”

The General Library is open to the public and has two rooms dedicated to studying and consulting the volumes. On the site Bibliotheca Terrae Sanctae, it is possible to search online the Library Catalogue of the Holy Land General Library OPAC (online public access catalog).

A Cultural wave

The Father Custos said that “in the books, in the documents, and in the archives, in short, our history, is also our future.” And the future of the Custody does not stop with the inauguration of the General Library and Archives. With the project, Terra Santa Museum 2015, the Custody envisages the opening of a museum of the Holy Land in 2015. The goal? Always to discover more of the rich artistic and archaeological heritage collected by the Franciscans during their eight centuries of presence in the Holy Land.

Amélie La Hougue

* A Firman is a diplomatic or administrative edict or grant of permission by an Oriental sovereign. A legal document issued in Arabic and Turkish relative to properties and human rights of the Custody of the Holy Land.


« Back


The Last Supper - LS-2

This is a beautiful depiction of the las...
more »