About Us

History & Heritage

The Library of the Pontifical Biblical Institute was founded alongside the Institute itself by Pope St. Pius X on May 7, 1909 with an apostolic letter Vinea Electa as a centre of advanced studies in Holy Scripture and related sciences.

The Library’s head office is located at Piazza della Pilotta. The building, the former Palazzo Muti Papazzurri, was designed in its final architecture by Mattia de Rossi, pupil of famed Baroque architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Most of its patrimony is allocated in the central hall, an area distributed on three levels with shelving and ballads, harmonized in an Art Nouveau style, typical of early twentieth-century architecture.

The Library specializes in Biblical and Oriental studies, including biblical exegesis and auxiliary sciences (Semitic and Greek philology), history of exegesis of all Christian and Jewish centuries, and archeology of the Ancient Near East from the protohistoric era until the 1st century AD.

Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, Italy
Pope Pius X


Many of the Library’s initial purchases were in German, as the rector, Fr. Leopold Fonck, SJ, was German and was very devoted to German biblical scholarship.

The first purchases were made prior to October 25, 1909, and included the Patrologiae Cursus Completus of Fr. Jacques Paul Migne, the fifty-two volume set of the Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, and, amongst hundreds of other works, commentaries on the Old and New Testaments by Karl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch.

The following year, Fr. Fonck received a signed document from the Cardinal Secretary of State granting him permission to borrow a number of works from the Vatican Apostolic Library that Leo XIII had set aside for a future library dedicated to Biblical Studies.

These acquisitions included contemporary archaeological studies of the Ancient Near East (especially Palestine and Assyria), a collection of various exegetical and oriental periodicals, and duplicates of books in the Vatican Library. These volumes, which remain the property of the Holy See, constitute a core collection of the Library.

New acquisitions over the years made it necessary to create a special depository for old and rarely consulted volumes in 1970. In 1992, the Library began to digitise the catalogue.

The Library has also been enriched by the generosity of the professors of the Pontifical Biblical Institute who have donated both rare and recent publications in the field of biblical studies. The entire collection now consists of more than 189,000 items.

The Library of the Pontifical Biblical Institute is associated with the Roman Union of Ecclesiastical Libraries, officially established on May 13, 1991.

On March 8, 2023, the Library, in collaboration with the Library of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, launched a new platform for library services, named DALET.

Starting from May 19, 2024, by the will of Pope Francis, the libraries of the Collegium Maximum, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and the Pontifical Oriental Institute are unified to form the Library of the Pontifical Gregorian University.