Welcome to the Catalog of Arabic Manuscripts!

This catalog presents the Arabic language manuscripts preserved at the Vatican Apostolic Library.

In due time, we will indicate the completion of this catalog, which will contain more than 3,200 manuscripts.

Brief Overview of Cataloged Collections

The Arabic manuscripts at the Vatican Apostolic Library come from various collections: Barberiniani orientali, Borgiani arabi, Neofiti, Pontificio Istituto Biblico, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, Pontificio Istituto di Studi Arabi e d’Islamistica, Rossiani, Sbath, Vaticani arabi.

Francesco Barberini (1597-1679)
Barberiniani orientali

From the library of Cardinal Francesco Barberini (1597-1679), this collection includes 165 manuscripts in various languages of diverse origins, including 66 Arabic manuscripts. The central nucleus comes from the library of the ancient Accademia dei Lincei. The Barberiniani library was purchased from the family in 1902 by the will of Pope Leo XIII (1895-1903).

Borgiani arabi

The Borgia collection comprises approximately 2,500 manuscripts, with the oldest nucleus originating from the Urban College, which was originally a college for missionary training under the authority of the Propaganda Fide. Enriched by the personal library of Cardinal Stefanio Borgia (1731-1804), Prefect of the Propaganda Fide, as well as manuscripts from the Propaganda Fide itself and donations, this collection was transferred to the Vatican in 1902 and subdivided by language.


The College of Neophytes was established by Pope Paul III (1534-1549) in 1543 for the religious training of converts from Judaism and Islam. The current collection primarily consists of Hebrew manuscripts and printed materials and was transferred to the Vatican in 1891. In 1896, it contained only three Arabic manuscripts. However, manuscripts from this college had previously entered the Vatican and were scattered among various collections, with Arabic manuscripts in the Vaticani arabi collection.

Pontificio Istituto Biblico
Pontificio Istituto Biblico

This institute for research and studies on biblical texts was founded in 1909 by Pope Pius X (1903-1914). Recently deposited at the Vatican, this collection contains twenty Arabic manuscripts.

Pontificio Istituto Orientale
Pontificio Istituto Orientale

This institute for research and studies on Eastern Churches was founded in 1917 by Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922). Recently deposited at the Vatican, this collection comprises seven Arabic manuscripts.

Pontificio Istituto di Studi Arabi e d’Islamistica (PISAI)

This institute for Arabic language and Islamic studies was founded in Tunisia in 1927 and transferred to Rome in 1964. The most recent collection deposited at the Vatican, it includes 30 Arabic manuscripts.


This collection consists of the rich library formed from family inheritances and personal acquisitions of Giovanni Francesco de Rossi (1796-1854). However, it contains only 5 Arabic manuscripts. The transfer of the collection to the Vatican was completed in December 1921.


Paul Sbath (1887-1945), a priest of the Syriac Catholic Church, had assembled a personal library of approximately 1,325 manuscripts. On October 26, 1927, the first 776 manuscripts from this collection entered the Vatican, while the rest were entrusted to the Georges and Mathilde Salem Foundation, established for this purpose upon the death of Paul Sbath. This foundation is located in Aleppo.

Vaticani Arabi
Vaticani Arabi

This is the only Arabic collection still open, and it contains the largest number of manuscripts. The first Arabic nucleus at the Vatican is documented in 1481 and includes 22 manuscripts. Since then, this collection has continued to grow and now contains 2,064 manuscripts.

Thematic portals

The description of the manuscripts, created within the LRM/RDA Diamond database, will also be accessible through various thematic portals offered by Diamond:

AlKindi: The written heritage of the Muslim worlds
Ignatios: The written heritage of the Eastern Christian world
Vatican Apostolic Library

Latest records

Manuscript Digital


Vatican. Vatican Library. Manuscript. Vat.ar.96

Manuscript Digital