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Collections News (page 5)

Collections News (page 5)

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We have consolidated our lists of collections, both cataloged and uncataloged, into a new database. You can now search and see a list of collections and their preservation and cataloging status. Completed collections are in HMML Reading Room or HMML Museum.

The manuscript collection of the Chaldean Archdiocese of Kirkuk (ACK) is now fully cataloged and available in HMML Reading Room. The collection includes 219 manuscripts, the contents of which are written primarily in Syriac, but also in Arabic, Arabic Garshuni, Turkish Garshuni, and Neo-Aramaic (Sureth).

Among the manuscripts are many copies of ecclesiastical and liturgical works, including Bibles, lectionaries, Ḥudras, and various liturgies used in the Chaldean rite. There are also translations of modern Roman Catholic authors into Syriac, Arabic Garshuni, and Turkish Garshuni, suggesting a robust local translation effort and a diverse population among the archdiocese. Many of the manuscripts were produced locally in Kirkuk, providing evidence of a strong scribal tradition of the area, while others were copied in Alqūsh, Tel Keppe, or Baghdad.

Most of the manuscripts were produced in the 19th or 20th centuries, but there are a few older manuscripts, including a dated 13th-century New Testament manuscript (ACK 00003) and a 15th-century copy of the Paradise of Eden by ʻAbdīshōʻ bar Brīkā (ACK 00066). Other noteworthy manuscripts among the collection include a somewhat rare hagiographical “Life of Ezekiel of Duqoq” (after whom was named a monastery near Kirkuk; ACK 00074), a collection of works by the East Syriac author Barḥadbšabba Arbaya (ACK 00147), and a somewhat unique collection of hagiographical and apocryphal works (ACK 00213). View now

280 volumes of the Parish Archives of Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, Naxxar, have been added to HMML Reading Room. Records inlcude baptisms, marriages, deaths wills and charitable bequests along with records include memorial masses, account books, confraternity records, historical notes, records from the French occupation of Malta, list of priests and notarial acts. The primary parish records can also be accessed by using the portal to find the volumes. View now

46 volumes of the Parish Archives of St. Nicholas of Bari Church, Siġġiewi, have been added to HMML Reading Room. Records include baptisms, marriages, wills and charitable bequests along with records include memorial masses, account books, confraternity records, historical notes, list of priests and notarial acts. The records can be accessed by using the portal to find the volumes. View now

The seminary of St. Anne's, Jerusalem (SAJL) was established in the 19th century by the French as a part of the church under the same name. Its collection contains 246 manuscripts mostly in Arabic with a few in the Greek and French languages. Liturgy is the highlight of this collection: 91 out the 246 manuscripts are liturgical manuscripts. Although St. Anne’s seminary was a Greek Catholic seminary, they kept the Greek Orthodox liturgy in practice. Therefore, liturgical manuscripts in this collection are expressions of the Byzantine rite. See for example the Horologion (SAJL 00103), Euchologion (SAJL 00222), and Triodion (SAJL 00251).  There is also a significant collection of the writings of John of Damascus among the preserved texts. View now

The collection of manuscripts held by the Aboubacar Ben Said Library (SAV ABS) is now fully cataloged and active in Reading Room. This is the first of 31 family libraries from Tombouctou evacuated to the Malian capital Bamako in 2012 by SAVAMA, a local NGO, following an Islamist insurgency in the region. 

SAV ABS has 7559 digital collection items, all of which are now freely accessible to the public via Reading Room. The collection is noteworthy for its large amount of esoteric material such as Fāʼidahs--recipes to obtain various spiritual and physical benefits--beneficial prayers, divination and geomancy. Especially interesting are collections of medical remedies that use a combination of verses from the Qur’an and local flora and fauna, rendered in Bambara and Fulfulde, two local languages, written in Arabic script (SAV ABS 02570).

The collection also contains fine copies of classical works of Islamic learning such as Ibn Mālik’s Alfīyah on Arabic grammar (SAV ABS 00007) and an Arabic dictionary (SAV ABS 03132), both likely imported from North Africa, as well as excellent examples of West African calligraphic styles such as Sūqi (SAV ABS 04305). It features Qur’ans and copies of the Dalāʼil al-Khayrāt, a work praising Prophet Muhammad, with the rich illuminations and geometric designs typical in West Africa. It also includes noted works by West African scholars such as the Kunta family, Usuman dan Fodio (1754-1817) and ʻUmar Tal (1794?-1864), as well as previously unknown scholars such as Yeɗi Sanba Ɓooyi, who produced several pentastitch poems, and a wide selection of locally produced and mostly anonymous works on the basic elements of the Islamic faith.

While we know little about the provenance of the collection outside of the Aboubacar Ben Said family, copyist notes reveal some interesting archival histories. SAV ABS 03264 was commissioned by Aḥmad ibn Aḥmad, second ruler of Masina. And several texts give genealogies for important Fulani, Ṣanhāja and Kunta families, and mention trading towns such as Timbuktu and Arawān, which stretch back six generations or more. While most texts date to the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, the oldest (SAV ABS 03135) is dated 1687 and many others were produced only in the last fifty years. View now

When Father Oliver Kapsner, OSB, traveled to Austria in late 1964 to seek permission to microfilm monastic collections of manuscripts, he stopped first at the Archabbey of Saint Peter. Although the community at Saint Peter’s supported his mission, they did not sign an agreement at that time for HMML to microfilm their collection. He was able to return in January to March 1968, when he directed the microfilming of 924 monastic manuscripts.

This venerable Benedictine abbey, founded by Saint Rupert in 690, is the oldest monastery in western Europe to have carried on its work without interruption to the present day. Although many codices were lost to Paris, Vienna, and Munich during the turbulent years of the early 19th century, the renowned scriptorium of the monastery is still represented by some 1300 manuscripts, dating as early as the 8th and 9th centuries. Included among these are many Benedictine authors and history not represented elsewhere. View now

Founded in 1133, Abtei Heiligenkreuz is the oldest Cistercian monastery in the world to be occupied without interruption. Located abut 25 miles south of Vienna, this abbey was also the founder of several other Cistercian abbeys in central Europe. Among these are Stift Zwettl and Stift Lilienfeld, both with collections that were also microfilmed by HMML. Between September 11, 1966, and October 10, 1966, Father Oliver Kapsner, OSB, and his filming crew photographed nearly 400 manuscripts (dated 10th century-17th century).

The collection includes many manuscripts from the 12th through the 14th centuries, when the scriptorium at Heiligenkreuz was particularly active. The library’s holdings represent a broad palette of monastic books, including several Bibles, commentaries, liturgical books, and sermon collections, as well as medical and scientific works. View now

The collection of manuscripts from Qalb al-Aqdas Chaldean Church in Tel Kepe (QACCT), Iraq, has now been fully cataloged and is active in Reading Room. The village of Tel Kepe, located between Mosul and Alqosh, has historically been home to a large community of Syriac heritage Christians, particularly associated with the Chaldean Catholic Church. The manuscripts were digitized in 2010, just a few years before the village was captured by the Islamic State (ISIL) in 2014, forcing the Christian families to flee.

The collection consists of 227 manuscripts, primarily containing texts written in the Syriac language, but there are also texts in Arabic, Arabic Garshuni, and Neo-Aramaic (Sureth). Most of the manuscripts are dated to the 18th through 19th centuries, though there are several important earlier manuscripts among the collection, such as QACCT 00008, an Evangelion that, while undated, was likely copied sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries. While many of the manuscripts were copied in Tel Kepe, others were copied in nearby villages like Gazarta, Alqūsh, and Mosul. Several of these manuscripts were copied by well-known scribal families in Alqūsh and Tel Kepe, and their colophons provide important information for studying scribal culture and the transmission of texts in the early period of the Chaldean Catholic tradition. The collection is primarily composed of manuscripts for liturgical use, though it also contains copies of works by patristic authors and other theological texts, both ancient and modern. View now

The collection of the Greek Orthodox Church of Mār Jirjis in Bishmizzīn, Lebanon, includes 14 manuscripts, now fully active in Reading Room. It represents an example of how a village church could locally provide its needs of liturgical manuscripts. Manuscripts of this church were copied by locals of the church or in the nearby monastery of al-Balamand. View now

The Lebanese Maronite Missionary Order (LMMO; Jamʻīyat al-Mursalīn al-Lubnānīyyn al-Mawārinah) is relatively recent. It was established in 1865 CE by Metropolitan Yūḥannā al-Ḥabīb. This short, yet rich, history with all its challenges and struggles is well documented and preserved in their manuscript collection housed in Jūniyah, Lebanon, and now displayed in HMML Reading Room.

It is possible to trace the history of the LMMO collection with its 597 manuscripts to 4 main sources. First, some manuscripts passed down through certain families or individuals who finally donated them to the order. Second, a considerable number of the manuscripts come from monasteries’ libraries, for example, the library of Dayr al-Kuraym where the order was first established and the convent of the visitation of the Virgin. Third, students in the schools of the order such as ʿAyn Waraqah and ʿAyn Tūrah provided part of the collection represented in their Arabic, French, and Latin notebooks, in addition to grammars and dictionaries. Fourth, members of the order contributed to the collection through their meticulous documentation of the history of the order, the life of its founder, and the endeavor to establish new venues in Latin America. These specific writings cover a wide range of genres such as autobiographies, biographies, travel accounts, rules and regulations, documents, and correspondence. View now

The cataloging team at HMML has recently finished cataloging manuscripts in the collection of the Church of the Forty Martyrs, located in Mardin, Turkey (CFMM). The collection includes over 1,000 manuscripts from a variety of languages including Syriac, Arabic, Arabic Garshuni, Ottoman Turkish, and Turkish Garshuni. Many manuscripts held at CFMM were originally housed at the nearby monastery Dayr Zaʿfarān (also known as Dayro d-Mor Ḥananyo), the see of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate from the 12th century until 1932. As such, the library of CFMM contains several important manuscripts pertaining to ecclesiastical affairs in the Syriac Orthodox Church, including several collections of correspondence between various patriarchs and other figures around the world.

The collection also contains a number of relatively early manuscripts, including at least five manuscripts from before the year 1000 CE, and several more from the 12th-14th centuries. There are also a significant number of manuscripts in the collection written, copied, or translated by the well-known 20th century bishop of Mardin, Philoxenos Yuḥanon Dolabani, who also produced a catalogue of the collection of manuscripts at Dayr Zaʿfarān. The collection contains the full range of genres of Syriac and Christian Arabic literature, including biblical manuscripts, liturgical manuscripts, patristic and theological collections, homilies, prayers, letters, philosophical works, and historical works. Also found in the collection are thirty-eight manuscripts containing Islamic religious and scientific texts. CFMM is an invaluable collection of manuscripts that testifies to the prolific literary and scribal culture of the Syriac Orthodox tradition. View now

The Benedictine abbey of St. Paul, located in Sankt Paul im Lavanttal on the southern tip of Austria near Slovenia, was founded in 1091 from the famous German reform abbey of Hirsau. Although of important religious and cultural influence, it was dissolved in 1782 and its manuscript collection largely disseminated in various directions.  In 1807, however, the Benedictine community of Sankt Blasien in Schwarzwald requested permission to resettle in Austria. First moving to the vacant Augustinian monastery of Spital am Pyhrn, they moved again in 1809 to the abandoned buildings of Sankt Paul, bringing with them not only the manuscripts of Sankt Blasien but those of Spital am Pyhrn as well. From this large monastic collection, HMML filmed 1046 manuscripts dating from the 8th to the early 19th centuries—one of the largest projects undertaken by HMML during its Austrian phase (1965-1973).

Thus, the collection at Sankt Paul consists of manuscripts from three monastic communities, although most of them are from Sankt Blasien. Among the Sankt Blasien manuscripts are several from the 8th to 11th centuries (and a couple are earlier), as well as 18th-century works by the monks and records of monastic life at Sankt Blasien.

As there is no published catalog of the collection at Sankt Paul, a major contribution from HMML staff includes the identification of folio numbers, authors, and titles for many of the works listed in the handwritten 19th-century inventory. We hope that this new information will also contribute to the eventual fuller cataloging of the collection. View now

The original religious community on St. Georgenberg, a 300-foot cliff near Stans on the Inn in Austria, is traditionally believed to have been founded by a certain Rathold von Aibling in Bayern, who died perhaps in the middle of the tenth century. An early benefactor was St. Albuin, bishop of Saben-Brixen (reigned approximately 977-1005 or 1006), whose donation of two properties is the earliest recorded gift to the community. The community was established as a Benedictine monastery in 1138 (closed in 1807-1816 and again in 1941-1945).  After a devastating fire in 1705, the community moved to Fiecht where it remained from 1708 to 2019, and it has very recently moved back to its original site at Sankt Georgenberg near Fiecht.

Although the monastery at one time owned manuscripts dating back to the 8th century, today's oldest holdings come from the 12th century. Numerous manuscripts from Sankt Georgenberg are in the British Library today. The 189 manuscripts microfilmed by HMML include historical records of the monastery and other manuscripts from the 12th century to 18th century.  The metadata for these manuscripts is now available online in Reading Room. View now

Additionally, the HMML-produced catalog is available online for free from at

The collection of the Chaldean Patriarchate of Babylon, formerly housed in Mosul and then in Baghdad, is now fully active in vHMML Reading Room. The collection includes 431 manuscripts, most of which are in the East Syriac language (also known as Chaldean) and in Arabic and Arabic Garshuni.

Among these are some of the finest manuscripts of the Chaldean Catholic community, which have been brought together from various parts of Iraq and Turkey. The collection contains Bibles, liturgical books, apocryphal literature, hagiographies, and scientific works. Some of the manuscripts were unfortunately lost or severely damaged  following the American invasion of Baghdad in 2003. The collection was digitized in collaboration with the Centre Numérique des Manuscrits Orientaux (CNMO) from 2014 to 2016. View now


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