Rediscovered treasure

The first mention of the Seminary of Tarragona’s library dates from 1595, making it is one of the oldest in the country. The library was first located on the Rambla Vella but at the end of the 19th century it was moved to its current location in the seminary building, next to the city’s Roman wall.

The first donation that the library received was a batch of 197 books on religious culture and classical works that canon Feliu Serra left in his will. Most of these date from the 16th century and were published in European cities such as Paris, Antwerp, Venice and Lyon. Important collections were later added, such as those of the Jesuits and the library of Archbishop Francesc Armanyà.

Among the works in today’s collection that stand out are the 451 volumes that bear Armanyà’s ex-libris (bookplate) and his coat of arms, as well as a 1704 edition of the volume Constitutions and other rights of Catalonia.

The library was closed to the public in 1968. When it was reopened in 2014, the Archbishop of Tarragona, Jaume Pujol, said: “We couldn’t keep such a treasure hidden at home.” He was right.

The wooden balustrade of the original library has been preserved, as has the original way of ordering the books, by size rather than by subject. After the old library was reopened, it was also remodelled and a walkway was built that now connects it to the modern city library, which also offers study rooms as well as a new bookstore that specialises in theological works.

Complutensian Polyglot Bible

Year: 1514-1517

Printer: Arnao Guillén de Brocar

Polyglot bible

“The library has a copy of the Bible of Alcalà, the first printed polyglot Bible. Commissioned by Cardinal Cisneros at the University of Alcalá de Henares, it aimed to validate the Vulgate [an early Latin translation of the Bible] by comparing it with the Bible’s original languages. To do so, the original sacred texts had to be located and the cardinal had to buy valuable ancient Latin, Chaldean, Hebrew and Greek codices.”

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