Posts Tagged ‘Vatican’

Director of Laity Council’s Sports Section Speaks on Prayer and Role Models

By Kathleen Naab

ROME, JAN. 13, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The director of the “Church and Sport” section at the Pontifical Council for the Laity admits that the “Tim Tebow phenomenon” has heightened his interest in the NFL playoffs.

Legionary of Christ Father Kevin Lixey works in the Roman Curia helping the Church make a contribution to the world of sport, with the aim of promoting a sports culture suitable to the integral development of the individual.

ZENIT spoke with Father Lixey about the Denver Broncos quarterback, Tim Tebow, after Tebow led his team to an overtime win in last Sunday’s playoff game.

Those familiar with the NFL — and even those who are not — might have heard of Tebow for more than his unique style as a quarterback. His outward expressions of his Christian faith are being talked about by all sorts of commentators, in the world of American football and beyond. Though certainly not the only athlete to publicly express his faith on the field, Tebow is drawing more attention than usual. We asked Father Lixey what he thinks about that.

ZENIT: Do you see Tim Tebow’s public expression of faith as a positive or negative phenomenon? Certainly it is drawing a lot of attention to Christ, in one form or another …

Father Lixey: The hype over Tim Tebow is certainly an interesting phenomenon in an ever more secularized world. I consider it something very positive. Even at the college level, while quarterback for the Florida Gators during the 2009 Bowl Championship Series title contest, Tebow wrote “John 3:16” on his eye black. The Palm Beach Post reported that 92million people Googled the verse following the game … impressive!

But, it is not the mere public expression of faith — as Tebow drops a

knee to give thanks after a touchdown, or prays with other players who include teammates and opponents after the game — that is attracting people; it is his entire person.

I had the chance to speak with the offensive coordinator who coached Tim at the Florida Gators. He said he was a very unique player who was spiritually on another stratosphere with respect to the rest of the team. Yet, Tim was respected by his teammates because he was genuine. And this is the point I would like to touch on. As one reporter noted (Chuck Klosterman, Dec. 6, 2011): “This, I think, is what makes Tebow so maddening to those who hate him: He refuses to say anything that would validate the suspicion that he’s fake (or naïve or self-righteous or dumb).”

While Tebow certainly sticks out for these external manifestations of his faith, not to mention his unorthodox playing style as an NFL quarterback, his personal background is also not typical for an NFL quarterback. It is a real “Cinderella” story — although those who have to tackle Tim would not consider him a Cinderella.

First of all, Tim Tebow was born in the Philippines to American parents who were serving as Baptist missionaries, as his father is a pastor. His mother, while pregnant, suffered a life-threatening infection and was advised to have an abortion but she decided not to, and both Tim and his mother survived a difficult pregnancy. Another unique aspect is that Tim, like his four older siblings, was home-schooled. Thanks to legislation that was passed in Florida in 1996, home-schooled students were allowed to compete in local high school sporting events.

ZENIT: OK, but does prayer really have a place in football? Surely God doesn’t care about who wins the Super Bowl — or does he?

Father Lixey: Judging from his public statements, Tebow is one of the few and most prominent religious athletes to recognize that God does not care about the score of football games. Tebow considers his missionary and philanthropic work much more important than football, but at the same time, possible, because of it. We all too often equate prayer with only asking good things from God, where prayer is only used “to obtain something” i.e., victory, health, or a miracle. The Catechism reminds us that prayer is also “the raising of one’s mind and heart to God” and that we “we must remember God more often that we draw breath.”

Certainly there are moments and places more conducive to prayer, but there is no reason that all religious manifestations be entirely banned from the public square. These external manifestations of one’s beliefs are impressive precisely because they are public. Just as Christians once fell to their knees at the sound of the Angelus bell to remember the Incarnation, or just as the cab driver makes the point of getting out of his car to bow down toward Mecca in prayer, I see no reason why a professional football player cannot offer a prayer of thanksgiving or point to heaven instead of doing a lewd victory dance in the end zone.

Nonetheless, these external manifestations can make some people feel uneasy and it is not certain how long this will be “allowed” in the NFL. The Danish Football Federation complained to FIFA for permitting members of the Brazilian national to gather together in prayer after their victory of the 2009 Confederations Cup. FIFA’s president responded by warning that any religious manifestation would not be permitted in the 2010 World Cup.

ZENIT: Along those lines, the Tebow “phenomenon” comes at a time when the U.S. bishops are particularly concerned about religious freedom. Is reaction to Tebow’s public expression of faith a sign that their concern is warranted? Or misplaced? Or is religious freedom on the playing field one thing, and in the public square something else?

Father Lixey: Pope Benedict XVI is also particularly concerned about religious freedom and touched upon this point Monday in his address to members of the diplomatic corps, noting: “In many countries Christians are deprived of fundamental rights and sidelined from public life; in other countries they endure violent attacks against their churches and their homes.”

Obviously the Holy Father was not speaking about the FIFA decision to sideline religion. But it does raise the question: “What is the public square today?” Is it literally that quaint square in front of a town hall somewhere in New England, where perhaps it is no longer permissible to display a Nativity scene? Or is it the Internet, a person’s desk at work, or the professional football stadium?

I think many are impressed with Tim Tebow’s courage in professing his faith for he certainly is mocked for it. When he received flack for doing a pro-life ad with “Focus on the Family” that ran during the 2010 Superbowl, he said: “I know some people won’t agree with it, but I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe in.” This is all Tim is asking. Whether it is standing up, or taking a knee, for what he believes in, many people do respect this, that he stands up for what he believes. Yet, others become infuriated as they consider Tebow guilty of breaching the line that all are supposed to respect, namely, that which separates the secular from the religious, the holy from the profane, the sacred from the everyday.

ZENIT: As Catholics, what can we learn from this situation — from Tebow himself, perhaps, and from the reactions he’s causing?

Father Lixey: Blessed John Paul II once reminded a group of top professional soccer players: “The eyes of sports fans throughout the world are fixed on you. Be conscious of your responsibility! It is not only the champion in the stadium but also the whole person who should become a model for millions of young people, who need ‘leaders,’ not ‘idols.’ They need men who can convey to them the zest for challenge, a sense of discipline, the courage to be honest and the joy of unselfishness.”

I believe Tim Tebow is trying to live up to these words of John Paul II and his example can prompt other athletes to be “leaders” and not idols, being a model on and off the field, especially of the corporal works of mercy. As Tim shares in his own words: “When I was a student at the University of Florida, I found great joy in taking time to encourage children suffering from cancer in hospitals or visiting a prison or juvenile detention center, or doing mission work with my family at Uncle Dick’s Orphanage in the Philippines. … Football is so popular (that) it enables an athlete like me to establish a platform for doing good deeds … to take this experience to an even greater level of outreach and influence. … After my professional career, I plan on giving my life full time to this outreach.”

That’s not a bad role model for the youth. … It’s not a bad example for us to follow either.

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By Robert Moynihan

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 1, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Since the moment on Good Friday when Jesus, speaking from the cross as he was about to die, said to the Apostle John, “Behold your mother,” the maternal role of Mary has been a central element of Christian faith and devotion.

The depictions of Mary’s sorrow in works of art such as the Pieta by Michelangelo have suggested a profound emotional truth: When any believer is confronted with great sorrow or suffering, we can turn to Mary, our spiritual mother, for consolation, because she experienced such great suffering.

The great Marian apparitions, especially at Lourdes in 1858 and at Fatima in 1917, suggest to thoughtful observers of the mystical life that Mary continues to “draw near” to the “little ones,” to children, to encourage them and to share with them a message of maternal comfort and exhortation.

Over the centuries, the theological reflection of the Church has come to grant special and particular titles to Mary, to make clearer who she is, and why she is worthy of our filial devotion.

Presently, the Church has proclaimed four dogmas regarding the Mother of Jesus: (1) her maternal role in the birth of Christ, the Son of God, making her truly Mother of God (“Theotokos,” Council of Ephesus, 431); (2) her Perpetual Virginity (First Lateran Council, 649); (3) her Immaculate Conception (Pius IX, “ex cathedra” proclamation, 1854); and (4) her Assumption into heaven (Pius XII, “ex cathedra” proclamation, 1950).

For almost a century now, there has been a small but growing movement in the Church in favor of the proclamation of a fifth Marian dogma regarding the role of the Blessed Virgin as the Spiritual Mother of All Humanity.

On March 25, the Vatican Forum of Inside the Vatican magazine and St. Thomas More College, in a meeting room close to St. Peter’s Square, will invite an international group of bishops and theologians to discuss whether now is the appropriate time for a fifth solemn definition or “dogma” to be pronounced regarding the Virgin Mary.

Years in the making

The movement within the Church for a fifth Marian dogma concerning the Virgin Mary’s role in our salvation is well over 90 years old. The Belgian Catholic ecumenical leader, Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier, initiated it in the 1920s, with the support of the then Father Maximilian Kolbe.

Since that time to the present, more than 800 cardinals and bishops have petitioned various Popes for an infallible definition of Mary’s special maternal role in the salvation of humanity. In addition, more than seven million petitions from faithful throughout the world have been gathered by the promoters of this devotion.

The Popes who promulgated the two modern Marian dogmas, Blessed Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) and Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), both acknowledged in a positive way the role petitions from members of the hierarchy and laity had played in their respective Marian definitional “bulls.”

During 2009, cardinals and bishops from every continent have petitioned Benedict XVI to consider promulgating the dogma of Mary’s spiritual Maternity under its three essential aspects as co-redemptrix, mediatrix of all graces, and advocate. This came after five cardinals wrote to the world’s bishops in request of petitions to the Holy Father for the fifth Marian Dogma.

Those signing the request included Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India; Cardinal Luis Aponte Martínez, retired archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, India; Cardinal Riccardo Vidal, archbishop of Cebu, Philippines; and Cardinal Ernesto Corripio y Ahumada, retired archbishop of Mexico City.

Some bishops, particularly in the West, see a Marian definition as potentially counterproductive to ecumenism. Two of the five cardinals who in 2009 wrote to the world’s bishops for this potential Marian dogma, Indian Cardinal Telespore Toppo and Cardinal Vithayathil, archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, have responded publicly to this ecumenical objection by stating that proclaiming the whole truth about the Mother of Jesus will only bring about authentic Christian unity based on a unity of Christian truth and faith, coupled with the renewed intercession of Mary, Mother of unity, as a result of a papal proclamation of her role as universal spiritual mother.

John Paul II used the co-redemptrix title on at least six occasions during his papacy.

Benedict XVI, without using the title, has repeatedly emphasized the doctrine of Mary’s co-redemption or “co-suffering” with Jesus, particularly in his World Day of the Sick addresses and his 2008 prayer for the suffering peoples in China addressed to Our Lady of Sheshan.

Beginnings

In reflecting on the beginnings of this movement for a Marian dogma, it is worth noting that Cardinal Mercier (1851-1926), the archbishop of Malines, Belgium, from 1906 until his death, was a key Church leader in his time. In addition to the heroic leadership he demonstrated during World War I, Cardinal Mercier hosted the famous Catholic-Anglican dialogue known as the Malines Conversations, and obtained the establishment of the liturgical feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces with its proper Mass and Office. His spiritual mentor was Blessed Dom Columba Marmion.

Here, in his own words, is the daily spiritual exercise Cardinal Mercier recommended. It still is valid today.

He wrote: “I am going to reveal to you the secret of sanctity and happiness. Every day for five minutes control your imagination and close your eyes to the things of sense and your ears to all the noises of the world, in order to enter into yourself. Then, in the sanctity of your baptized soul (which is the temple of the Holy Spirit), speak to that Divine Spirit, saying to Him: ‘O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do. Give me your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your Will.’

“If you do this, your life will flow along happily, serenely, and full of consolation, even in the midst of trials. Grace will be proportioned to the trial, giving you strength to carry it, and you will arrive at the Gate of Paradise laden with merit. This submission to the Holy Spirit is the secret of sanctity.”

And it was this submission to the Holy Spirit, of course, which was the distinguishing mark of Mary’s life, especially at the moment of the Annunciation (March 25), when she said, “Let it be done to me according to Thy will.”

Dialogue

Panelists for the March 25 Day of Dialogue will include Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, Philippines, president of the Marian-Mariological Society of the Philippines, Carmelite Father Enrique Llamas, president of the Mariological Society of Spain. Also presenting will be Dr. Judith Gentle, Anglican theologian, author, and member of Our Lady of Walsingham Mariological Society from the United Kingdom.

The morning session will constitute brief presentations by panelists discussing the issue of appropriateness of a fifth Marian dogma at this time, while the afternoon session will consist of a dialogue by panelists, press, and audience concerning the topic.

The Pontifical Marian Academy was invited to participate in the dialogue, but later notified Inside the Vatican magazine that members of the Academy would not be participating. The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 10:00 a.m. at the Via Borgo Pio, #141.

* * *

Robert Moynihan is founder and editor of the monthly magazine Inside the Vatican. He is the author of the book “Let God’s Light Shine Forth: the Spiritual Vision of Pope Benedict XVI” (2005, Doubleday). Moynihan’s blog can be found at www.insidethevatican.com. He can be reached at: editor@insidethevatican.com.

By Elizabeth Lev

Sometime when you get to be friends with people, you forget about the important work they do. In this respect, I have been neglectful in writing about one the finest sources of information on St. Peter’s Basilica, the Web site stpetersbasilica.org.

Alan Howard founded this Web site in 2000 as a nonprofit, no advertising, information site for the Vatican basilica. Although he lives in the United States, he does extensive research and visits Rome regularly to enhance his own photo archive of St. Peter’s.

It finally occurred to me that an interview might be in order.

Alan thinks of this as his Catholic apostolate. “There are scores of Web pages on St. Peter’s, but the idea here was to do something more definitive, more comprehensive. The site now has hundreds of pages and thousands of photos, but it’s really just a beginning, as St. Peter’s is virtually inexhaustible.”

Alan has a family, a busy life and a day job, but he was inspired to take on this other task. “Like so many people that walk through St. Peter’s, I was deeply impressed with the beauty and history that I encountered, and inspired to learn more. After reading the guidebooks, I developed a hunger for more than just names and dates. I kept touring St. Peter’s and learning something new each time.”

What opened the door to Alan’s mission was “the most shocking discovery of the inconsistent presentation of the many tour guides. Some were very good and literally brought the church to life, while others seemed to have no training or regard for the facts. Eventually I resolved to create a resource for both the casual tourist to learn more, and for the tour guides to check the facts.”

Interest in Alan’s site has gone beyond fact checking for tour guides. When Pope John Paul II died in 2005, news agencies swamped Alan with requests for information. On April 6, 2006, the 500th anniversary of the rebuilding of St. Peter’s, Vatican Radio interviewed Alan about the historic event.

This year, Alan was approached by the research staff of Sony Pictures for information regarding their upcoming movie, “Angels and Demons,” based on Dan Brown’s notoriously inaccurate novel.

Alan is no fan of Brown’s writings, but he hopes his input will do some good. “Sometimes you can only provide the information and pray for a positive result,” he remarked.

He has gathered a formidable amount of information over the years. “I’ve collected many of the best English books, and most of the site is from these sources. Some of the sources are out of print, and the author or publisher has given permission to place the book online.”

Alan sees his work as trying to present the truth about St. Peter’s. “A few years ago, there was some incorrect and irresponsible information put on the Internet about the search for St. Peter’s tomb. In order to give the complete story, I received permission from the author John Evangelist Walsh to place his book, ‘The Bones of St. Peter,’ online.”

Alan mentioned an important new source of Vatican information, the new vaticanstate.va Web site, which includes information on 10 areas of St. Peter’s in five languages. In his view, “This site has new information on many areas of the Vatican, but one of the things that I love best is the webcams that allow us to watch St. Peter’s around the clock. If you want, you can now watch the light go off in the Pope’s apartment when he goes to bed.”

So the obvious question to ask a St. Peter’s expert is: Do you have a favorite monument, place or memory of the basilica? “Like every other pilgrim that comes into St. Peter’s,” Alan told me, “I never tire of looking at the Pietà.”

But then he added, “One of my favorite things to do when visiting the Vatican basilica, is to go to confession. It’s such a privilege to partake in the sacramental life of the Church. I would also advise anyone that enters St. Peter’s, to put their camera and tour book away for a moment and enter the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, which is reserved only for prayer.”

Alan left me with one final suggestion. “One of the best souvenirs you could ever bring back from Rome, would be to take your rosary down into the Grottoes and have the attendant place it on the tomb of John Paul II. Then you can have them blessed by Benedict XVI at his general audience.”



Interview With Ambassador Kagefumi Ueno

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Japan and the Vatican have a lot of reasons to intensify relations in the coming years, especially regarding cooperation in Africa, says the new Japanese ambassador to the Holy See.

Ambassador Kagefumi Ueno, who began his mission at the Vatican in November, adds that “there is a lot of scope for teamwork and coordination between Japanese aid agencies and some important Catholic players in Africa.”

 



 

In this interview with ZENIT, the ambassador also offers a Japanese perspective of the Vatican, and some thoughts on why Catholics only comprise 0.5% of Japan’s population. 

Q: Coming from Japan, what strikes you most about the Holy See?

Ueno: My impression is that the Holy See has four very distinct capacities.

First, it has a moral value or moral authority that is respected not only by Catholics but also by many authorities of non-Christian countries. 

For instance, when I extended my credentials to the Holy Father, he expressed his desire for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The next day, what he said to me was reported almost everywhere around the globe. 

Likewise, what he says about Darfur, Iraq, Palestine and so forth, always receives international attention.

The Pope is, in this context, a kind of “guardian” over the international situation. The international community expects him to talk about peace and justice. 

When the U.S. president or Russian president speaks on some international issue, it is taken for granted that he speaks from national interests. But that is not the case when the Pope speaks. The Holy See is detached from secular interests. 

Second, I regard the Holy See as an international unit like the United Nations. To some extent I deem the Pope as a kind of secretary-general of another United Nations, although with religious foundations. 

Third, the Church has a global network that is locally rooted in every continent, with its operational center at the Vatican. 

Fourth, they have a big communication power through Vatican Radio, L’Osservatore Romano and other media to spread their message to every corner of the world. 

All in all, very unique and impressive!

For me, a man who comes from Japan, a country with a long-lasting imperial household, in fact, one of the oldest institutions in the world besides the Holy See, it is interesting to explore why and how the Holy See has succeeded in lasting for such a long time. 

Q: Are their areas of cooperation that the Holy See and Japan have in common?

Ueno: Before touching upon that, I like to repeat that the most important role to be played by the Pope is to spread the message of peace. 

So even personally, not just as ambassador of Japan, I expect him to talk about his views on peace and justice whenever and wherever necessary. 

Besides peace and justice, the priority areas of cooperation, coordination and communication between the two are global warming and Africa. 

Speaking specifically of Africa, as the second largest donor of assistance in the international community after the United States, Japan offers a lot in terms of aid to Africa. 

Up until some time ago, Japanese assistance was focused only in the Asian region. 

As many Asian recipients of our aid managed to develop their respective economies successfully over the last 2 or 3 decades, there is less and less urgency to direct our assistance there. 

From here, Japan started “a process of dialogue on development” — called TICAD — 15 years ago between Japan, African countries, other donor countries and international agencies. 

At a strategic and policy level, Japan, serving as the next chair of the group of eight summit in 2008, should do everything possible to urge the G-8 countries to substantially focus their attention to Africa in a concerted and coordinated manner. 

Japan is keen to hear the Holy See’s view. The policy dialogue between Japan and the Holy See is expected to intensify. 

On a practical and operational level, there is a lot of scope for teamwork and coordination between Japanese aid agencies and some important Catholic players in Africa, such as Caritas International and the Community of Sant’Egidio, among others, in coming years. 

I always pay respect to endeavors of Catholic aid donors who, when taken together, make up the largest organization giving assistance to sub-Saharan Africa. 

It should not be overlooked, in passing, that one obvious additional advantage of Japan is that there is no historical “negative links” between Japan and Africa: Japan is very “free” in Africa, since they haven’t had any experience of colonization there. 

Q: What is your view on interreligious dialogue?

Ueno: I like to say that, nowadays, whenever the Catholic Church talks about interreligious dialogue, it seems to me that in reality they mean dialogue with Islam. 

Of course, I fully understand that dialogue with Islam has paramount importance for Catholicism. But, dialogue with other religions such as Buddhism, Shintoism, and so forth, should be equally heeded. 

Actually, in Japan, when interreligious dialogue is spoken of, the preoccupation is also on Islam, not necessarily Catholicism or Christianity. 

So, I like to appeal to both sides — to the Holy See and to Japanese society in general — to think more and more about dialogue between Catholicism on one hand and Buddhism and Shintoism on the other. 

In this respect, it is noteworthy that Monsignor Felix Machado, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, participated in the Religious Summit Meeting on Mount Hiei, Kyoto, earlier this month. 

Q: Has Catholicism contributed in any significant way to Japanese society? 

Ueno: There are two aspects that should be pointed out.

First, in Japan the Catholic Church has established many universities, schools and other welfare facilities. 

Many of the graduates from these institutions occupy important positions in a variety of social segments. For instance, at my ministry, the Japanese Foreign Ministry, there are a number of graduates from those schools. 

Through these institutions many Japanese are to some extent familiar with Catholic virtues. 

Nevertheless, I must add that somehow not many of those educated in Catholic institutions are baptized. Actually, those who are remain a very small proportion. 

I believe there are two reasons why so few become Catholic. 

First, let me remind you that majority of Japanese have a mentality to perceive or find “souls” in plants, animals, mountains, waterfalls, fountains, rocks and so on, like, say, ancient Celtic people. 

This Japanese cosmology, typical of a polytheistic mentality, has a sharp contrast with the monotheistic vision of Christianity. 

Second, against this background, it appears to me that Christians tend to adhere to absolute values. 

For instance, when they talk about justice or evil, they mean absolute justice or evil — a black-or-white approach. 

In contrast with them, when Japanese talk about justice, they mean relative justice — gray-zone approach. 

Thus, there are some basic and fundamental philosophical differences between the two cosmologies, which, though vaguely, accounts for a relatively low proportion of Christians in Japan. 

However, we should not overlook another side of the coin — that many Japanese accept 70%-80% of the teachings of Catholicism. 

For instance, they accept almost all of the Ten Commandments. There are a lot of common denominators between the two cosmologies. 

I would say Christianity has had many positive effects on Japanese society. 


While school children and college students gleefully deserted their libraries and study halls for summer vacation, this week scholars bid a sad goodbye to the Vatican Library. This year’s summer closing, which began July 13, will last until 2010.

The extended closing is due to the pressing need for restoration and consolidation of the library structure and collection. By the time the works are complete, the Vatican library will be more modern and user-friendly for the hundreds of researchers from all over the world who consult the treasure trove of manuscripts and documents.

The idea of the Vatican Library was formed by Pope Nicholas V in 1450 when the Pope started collecting and organizing manuscripts. But the actual foundation took place under Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere who appointed the first “gubernator et custos,” Bartolomeo Platina, in 1475. This visionary Pope, who also built the Sistine Chapel, swelled the collection to 3,500 volumes, the largest library in Italy at the time.

The immense collection was given its home by Pope Sixtus V (1585-1590) who built the present library palace in the Belvedere courtyard and decorated the stunning reading room still visible in the Vatican Museums today.

The library was raided by Napoleon in 1797 and one can still discern the faint stamp of the Bibliotèque Nationale Française under the Vatican Library mark in several of the more precious volumes.

Today the collection numbers 1.6 million texts and 75,000 manuscripts. While laughable compared to the Library of Congress in the United States, it is the quality, not the quantity that counts here.

The Vatican Library contains some of the rarest manuscripts in the world, including Cicero and Virgil as well as Gospel fragments dating as far back as the second century. It also boasts exquisitely illuminated works and a tiny papyrus note book, the oldest book in existence. The Codex Vaticanus, the fourth-century Greek translation of the Bible, is one of the oldest Bibles in the world.

The library also has an immense numismatic collection, featuring 300,000 coins and medals.

The three-year restoration project aims to create more space for the ever-growing number of scholars that need its resources as well as restoring and rendering more modern its 16th-century home. A climate-control system will be installed, the restoration labs renewed and the manuscript depository has to be brought up to standards of the European Union.

It is a difficult sacrifice for researchers, especially those who are in the middle of working on doctoral theses or books. During this period, however, Father Raffaele Farina, the prefect of the Vatican Library, has promised that personnel will be available through e-mail correspondence for photographic or digital reproductions, and that they will continue to put manuscripts online. More information can be found on the library Web site.

Many disappointed tourists, teachers and students who gazed up at scaffolding during the Sistine Chapel’s 10-year restoration discovered that the long sacrifice was well worth the wait. Hopefully, the restoration of the Vatican Library will be as fortunate.