Thursday, April 30, 2009

How to Get Access to the Vatican through the Backdoor

It is very complicated to get a reader's pass and then to finally get a book in your hand. It is a long process. First of all you need a letter of recommendation and a something that will attest that you are doing legitimate research and are not a Da Vinci code fan.

It is professor Paul Burke of Clark University who shares his experiences of how to get access and conduct research in the Vatican Library. I thought this might be something to watch for those who are preparing for this year's SBL International Meeting in Rome. If you want to see something in the Vatican Library, you had better be prepared.

Burke ends his account by saying, "So it is a fascinating little way of getting access to the Vatican through the backdoors literally which is not experienced by most tourists."

In recent years the Vatican Library has undergone a major renovation. Read our previous reports:

Vatican Library Closed for Three Years
Library Repair Causes a Plea to the Pope

Nowadays, P75 is also in the collection of the Vatican Library. See More on P75 (P. Vatican ???)


  1. You mean how he received a letter of recommendation. You will have to write to a person in charge in advance I guess.

  2. Hi,

    Am I missing something here?

    The procedure described by him is very similar if not identical for getting access to serious research institutions, at least in the UK anyway.


  3. If that's the back door method, what do you need to get in the front door--a Sherman Tank?

  4. Hi anonymous, in order to access the major research libraries in Sweden including e.g. manuscript collection you will not need any letters of recommendation. For a manuscript collection you must show an ID and write down some details in a logbook, and you cannot bring your bag, etc. You should also contact a responsible person in advance for them to bring up the material (normally one day in advance).

    Moreover, there will be no armed guards around... However, I know there is one security guard at the display of codex gigas, one of our treasures. And I can imagine that I will need a letter of recommendation to be able to examine those major treasures. But when I went to Uppsala to see the Greek NT manuscripts (11), I got to be alone with them in a room, and I was free to take pictures of them. Of course I had had contact in advance to make the arrangement. I imagine it is far more difficult in the Vatican Library.