vatican-libraryA Japanese IT firm has signed on to help the Vatican Library digitize its priceless collection of ancient manuscripts that date from the origins of the church.

According to the BBC the first stage of the project covering the next four years will scan about 3,000 handwritten documents. At some point the library hopes to make available all its 82,000 manuscripts online.

One of the items is a rare Roman manuscript featuring the poems of Virgil dating back to 400AD. It’s among thousands of historic items the Vatican’s library plans to publish online.

The Vatican Apostolic Library was founded in 1451 and is considered one of the world’s most important research libraries. The 82,000 manuscripts comprise more than 41 million pages.

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