Places of knowledge: the Benedictines’ library

The work of the Benedictines not only followed religious and charitable commitments, but scientific undertakings, too. The monastery’s first collection of books was probably created at its foundation and used exclusively by the monks. The monks also followed strict Benedictine rule through the study of literature and science.
They established relations with the city’s cultural institutions and acquired important collections over the centuries.
There were around 24,000 volumes of rare, ancient and modern manuscripts and parchments; the monks were great connoisseurs and disseminators of ancient knowledge. After the eruption of 1669 and the earthquake of 1693 the monastery suffered great losses but the monks managed to save part of the collection, which they kept until the library was rebuilt.
The construction of the library’s new main hall was entrusted to Vaccarini, who designed it with typical elements from late Baroque art.
In fact, the giant central plan hall, the “Sala Vaccarini” (Vaccarini Hall), is an important room covered almost completely by wooden bookshelves in order that nearly reach the decorated vault, placed between the round windows that illuminate the room.
In addition to the hall there were five other sumptuous rooms used for the Benedictine Museum and designed to closely match the library. Today the former museum rooms are home to the library’s reference and reading rooms.

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Places of knowledge: the Benedictines’ library

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