Biblioteca Ambrosiana

Biblioteca Ambrosiana

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The Biblioteca Ambrosiana is a historic library
Library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

 in Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, also housing the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, the Ambrosian art gallery. Named after Ambrose
Ambrose
Aurelius Ambrosius, better known in English as Saint Ambrose , was a bishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was one of the four original doctors of the Church.-Political career:Ambrose was born into a Roman Christian family between about...

, the patron saint of Milan, it was founded by Cardinal Federico Borromeo
Federico Borromeo
Federico Borromeo was an Italian ecclesiastic, cardinal and archbishop of Milan.-Biography:Federico Borromeo was born in Milan as the second son of Giulio Cesare Borromeo, Count of Arona, and Margherita Trivulzio...

 (1564–1631), whose agents scoured Western Europe and even Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 for books and manuscripts. Some major acquisitions of complete libraries were the manuscripts of the Benedictine monastery of Bobbio (1606) and the library of the Paduan Vincenzo Pinelli, whose more than 800 manuscripts filled 70 cases when they were sent to Milan and included the famous Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

, the Ilia Picta
Ambrosian Iliad
The Ambrosian Iliad or Ilia Picta is a 5th century illuminated manuscript on vellum of the Iliad of Homer. It is thought to have been produced in Constantinople during the late 5th or early 6th century AD, specifically between 493 and 508...

.

History



During Cardinal Borromeo's sojourns in Rome, 1585–95 and 1597–1601, he envisioned developing this library in Milan as one open to scholars and that would serve as a bulwark of Catholic scholarship in the service of the Counter-Reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

 against the treatises issuing from Protestant presses. To house the cardinal's 15,000 manuscripts and twice that many printed books, construction began in 1603 under designs and direction of Lelio Buzzi and Francesco Maria Richini
Francesco Maria Richini
thumb|250px|The inner court of Palazzo Brera in Milan.Francesco Maria Richini was an Italian Baroque architect....

. When its first reading room, the Sala Fredericiana, opened to the public on 8 December 1609 it was, after the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library
The Bodleian Library , the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library...

 in Oxford, the second public library
Public library
A public library is a library that is accessible by the public and is generally funded from public sources and operated by civil servants. There are five fundamental characteristics shared by public libraries...

 in Europe. One innovation was that its books were housed in cases ranged along the walls, rather than chained to reading tables, the latter a medieval practice seen still today in the Laurentian Library
Laurentian Library
The Laurentian Library is a historical library in Florence, Italy, containing a repository of more than 11,000 manuscripts and 4,500 early printed books...

 of Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

. A printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 was attached to the library, and a school for instruction in the classical languages.

Constant acquisitions, soon augmented by bequests, required enlargement of the space. Borromeo intended an academy
Academy
An academy is an institution of higher learning, research, or honorary membership.The name traces back to Plato's school of philosophy, founded approximately 385 BC at Akademia, a sanctuary of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and skill, north of Athens, Greece. In the western world academia is the...

 (which opened in 1625) and a collection of pictures, for which a new building was initiated in 1611–18 to house the Cardinal's paintings and drawings, the nucleus of the Pinacoteca.

Cardinal Borromeo gave his collection of paintings and drawings to the library, too. Shortly after the cardinal's death, his library acquired twelve manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

, including the Codex Atlanticus
Codex Atlanticus
The Codex Atlanticus is a twelve-volume, bound set of drawings and writings by Leonardo da Vinci, the largest such set; its name indicates its atlas-like breadth. It comprises 1,119 leaves dating from 1478 to 1519, the contents covering a great variety of subjects, from flight to weaponry to...

. The library now contains some 12,000 drawings by European artists, from the 14th through the 19th centuries, which have come from the collections of a wide range of patrons and artists, academicians, collectors, art dealers, and architects. Prized manuscripts, including the Leonardo codices, were requisitioned by the French during the Napoleonic occupation, and only partly returned after 1815.

On 15 October 1816 the Romantic poet Lord Byron visited the library. He was delighted by the letters between Lucrezia Borgia
Lucrezia Borgia
Lucrezia Borgia [luˈkrɛtsia ˈbɔrʤa] was the illegitimate daughter of Rodrigo Borgia, the powerful Renaissance Valencian who later became Pope Alexander VI, and Vannozza dei Cattanei. Her brothers included Cesare Borgia, Giovanni Borgia, and Gioffre Borgia...

 and Pietro Bembo
Pietro Bembo
Pietro Bembo was an Italian scholar, poet, literary theorist, and cardinal. He was an influential figure in the development of the Italian language, specifically Tuscan, as a literary medium, and his writings assisted in the 16th-century revival of interest in the works of Petrarch...

 ("The prettiest love letters in the world") and claimed to have managed to steal a lock of her hair ("the prettiest and fairest imaginable.") held on display.

Novelist Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus . She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley...

 visited the library on 14 September 1840 but was disappointed by the tight security occasioned by the recent attempted theft of "some of the relics of Petrarch" housed there.


Among the 30,000 manuscripts, which range from Greek and Latin to Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopian, Turkish and Persian, is the Muratorian fragment
Muratorian fragment
The Muratorian fragment is a copy of perhaps the oldest known list of the books of the New Testament. The fragment, consisting of 85 lines, is a 7th-century Latin manuscript bound in an eighth or 7th century codex that came from the library of Columban's monastery at Bobbio; it contains internal...

, of ca 170 A.D., the earliest example of a Biblical canon
Biblical canon
A biblical canon, or canon of scripture, is a list of books considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular religious community. The term itself was first coined by Christians, but the idea is found in Jewish sources. The internal wording of the text can also be specified, for example...

 and an original copy of De divina proportione
De divina proportione
De Divina Proportione is a famous book on mathematics written by Luca Pacioli around 1497 in Milan. Today only two versions of the original manuscript are believed still to exist...

by Luca Pacioli
Luca Pacioli
Fra Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli was an Italian mathematician, Franciscan friar, collaborator with Leonardo da Vinci, and seminal contributor to the field now known as accounting...

. Among Christian and Islamic Arabic manuscripts are treatises on medicine, a unique 11th-century diwan
Diwan (poetry)
-Etymology:The English usage of the phrase Diwan Poetry comes from the Arabic word diwan , which is loaned from Persian means designated a list or register. The Persian word derived from the Persian dibir meaning writer or scribe...

 of poets, and the oldest copy of the Kitab Sibawahaihi
Sibawayh
Abū Bishr ʻAmr ibn ʻUthmān ibn Qanbar Al-Bishrī , commonly known as Sībawayh , was an influential linguist and grammarian of the Arabic language. He was of Persian origin born ca...

.

The Library has a college of Doctors, similar to the scriptors of the Vatican Library. Among prominent figures have been Giuseppe Ripamonti
Giuseppe Ripamonti
Giuseppe Ripamonti was an Italian historian.Ripamonti was born in Colle Brianza, and became a Doctor of Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan....

, Ludovico Antonio Muratori
Ludovico Antonio Muratori
Ludovico Antonio Muratori was an Italian historian, notable as a leading scholar of his age, and for his discovery of the Muratorian fragment, the earliest known list of New Testament books....

, Giuseppe Antonio Sassi, Cardinal Angelo Mai
Angelo Mai
Angelo Mai was an Italian Cardinal and philologist. He won a European reputation for publishing for the first time a series of previously unknown ancient texts. These he was able to discover and publish, first while in charge of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan and then in the same role at the...

 and, at the beginning of the 20th century, Antonio Maria Ceriani
Antonio Maria Ceriani
Antonio Maria Ceriani was an Italian prelate, Syriacist, and scholar.Ceriani was born at Uboldo, in Lombardy. He was ordained a priest for his home diocese of Milan in 1852 and the same year was appointed keeper of the catalogue of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana at Milan...

, Achille Ratti, the future Pope Pius XI, and Giovanni Mercati
Giovanni Mercati
Giovanni Mercati was an Italian cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archivist of the Vatican Secret Archives and Librarian of the Vatican Library from 1936 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1936.- Biography :Giovanni Mercati was born in Villa Gaida, Reggio...

.

The building was damaged in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, with the loss of the archives of opera libretti of La Scala
La Scala
La Scala , is a world renowned opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the New Royal-Ducal Theatre at La Scala...

, but was restored in 1952 and underwent major restorations in 1990–97.

Some manuscripts

  • Uncial 0135
    Uncial 0135
    Uncial 0135 , ε 85 , is a Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament, dated paleographically to the 9th century.- Description :...

     — fragments of the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke
  • Codex Ambrosianus 435
    Codex Ambrosianus 435
    Codex Ambrosianus 435 is one of the most important manuscripts of the treatise On the Soul by Aristotle. It is designated by the symbol U. Paleographically it had been assigned to the 12th or 13th century. It is written in Greek minuscule letters. The manuscript contains the complete text of the...

    , Ambrosianus 837
    Codex Ambrosianus 837
    Codex Ambrosianus 837 is a manuscript of the treatise On the Soul by Aristotle. It is designated by the symbol Dc. Paleographically it had been assigned to the 13th century. It is written in Greek minuscule letters. The manuscript contains a complete text of the treatise.The text of the manuscript...

     — treatise On the Soul
    On the Soul
    On the Soul is a major treatise by Aristotle on the nature of living things. His discussion centres on the kinds of souls possessed by different kinds of living things, distinguished by their different operations...

    of Aristotle
  • Minuscule manuscripts of New Testament: 343
    Minuscule 343
    Minuscule 343 , ε 120 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 11th century.It has full marginalia.- Description :...

    , 344
    Minuscule 344
    Minuscule 344 , ε 1007 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Paleographically it has been assigned to the 10th century.It has marginalia.- Description :...

    , 345
    Minuscule 345
    Minuscule 345 , ε 119 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Paleographically it has been assigned to the 11th century. The manuscript was prepared for Church reading. It has full marginalia.- Description :The codex contains a complete text of the four Gospels on 375...

    , 346
    Minuscule 346
    Minuscule 346 , ε 226 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Paleographically it has been assigned to the 12th century.It has marginalia.- Description :...

    , 347
    Minuscule 347
    Minuscule 347 , ε 226 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Paleographically it has been assigned to the 12th century. It has full marginalia.- Description :...

    , 348
    Minuscule 348
    Minuscule 348 , ε 227 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Dated by a colophon to the year 1022 .It has full marginalia.- Description :...

    , 349
    Minuscule 349
    Minuscule 349 , ε 413 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on paper. It is dated by a colophon to the year 1322.It has marginalia.- Description :...

    , 350
    Minuscule 350
    Minuscule 350 , ε 413 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Paleographically it has been assigned to the 11th century.It has marginalia.- Description :...

    , 351
    Minuscule 351
    Minuscule 351 , ε 228 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Paleographically it has been assigned to the 12th century.It has marginalia.- Description :...

    , 352
    Minuscule 352
    Minuscule 352 , ε 123 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Paleographically it has been assigned to the 11th century...

    , 353
    Minuscule 353
    Minuscule 353 , A210 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Paleographically it has been assigned to the 12th century.It has full marginalia.- Description :...

    , 614
    Minuscule 614
    Minuscule 614 , α 364 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 13th century. The manuscript is lacunose...

    , 615
    Minuscule 615
    Minuscule 615 , α 560 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on paper. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 15th century. Tischendorf labeled it by 138a and 173p.- Description :...

  • Lectionaries 102
    Lectionary 102
    Lectionary 102, designated by siglum ℓ 102 – formerly ℓ 102a – is a Greek manuscript of the New Testament, on paper leaves. It is dated by a colophon to the year 1370.- Description :...

    , 103
    Lectionary 103
    Lectionary 103, designated by siglum ℓ 103 is a Greek manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment leaves. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 13th century.- Description :...

    , 104
    Lectionary 103
    Lectionary 103, designated by siglum ℓ 103 is a Greek manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment leaves. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 13th century.- Description :...

    , 105
    Lectionary 103
    Lectionary 103, designated by siglum ℓ 103 is a Greek manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment leaves. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 13th century.- Description :...

    , 106
    Lectionary 103
    Lectionary 103, designated by siglum ℓ 103 is a Greek manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment leaves. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 13th century.- Description :...

    , 284
    Lectionary 284
    Lectionary 284, designated by siglum ℓ 284 is a Greek manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment...

    , 285
    Lectionary 285
    Lectionary 285, designated by siglum ℓ 285 is a Greek manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment...

    , 286
    Lectionary 286
    Lectionary 286, designated by siglum ℓ 286 is a Greek manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment...

    , 287
    Lectionary 287
    Lectionary 287, designated by siglum ℓ 287 is a Greek manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment...

    , 288
    Lectionary 288
    Lectionary 288, designated by siglum ℓ 288 is a Greek manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment...

    , 289
    Lectionary 289
    Lectionary 289, designated by siglum ℓ 289 is a Greek manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment...

    , 290
    Lectionary 290
    Lectionary 290, designated by siglum ℓ 290 is a Greek manuscript of the New Testament, on paper. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 14th century.Scrivener labelled it as 169e....

    .
  • Codex Ambrosianus
    Codex Ambrosianus
    The Codex Ambrosianus refers to five manuscripts, c. 6th-11th century CE, written by different hands and in different alphabets. The codices contain scattered passages from the Old Testament and the New Testament , as well as some commentaries known as Skeireins...


Further reading


External links