Catholic Church. Congregatio Reverendae Fabricae Sancti Petri.
This congregation is better known by its Italian name, the Fabbrica di San Pietro. On April 18, 1506, Pope Julius II laid the first stone of the great new basilica dedicated to St. Peter that was to replace the first basilica constructed by Constantine the Great. By the bull Admonet nos suscepti of December 12, 1523, Pope Clement VII formally established the Reverenda Fabbrica di San Pietro in the Vatican, an administrative entity to provide for the basilica's reconstruction and subsequent maintenance. Even though its central task of watching over the physical integrity of St. Peter's has not varied, the organizational structure and legal attributions of the Fabbrica have been successively modified over the centuries of its existence. Its initial form was that of a "college" or corporate body of sixty, drawn from among the ambassadors of Catholic states, but later it became a Sacred Congregation on similar lines to others of the model administration created by the Sixtus V in 1588. More recently it has become a Palatine Administration.
The origin of this congregation can be found in the commission set up by Julius II (constitution Liquet omnibus, 11 Jan 1510) to supervise the reconstruction of the old Basilica of St. Peter. Clement VII (constitution Admonet Nos suscepti, 12 Dec 1523) replaced the commission with a permanent college of 60 experts of international background, directly dependent on the Holy See, charged with providing for the building and administration of the basilica. Sixtus V (constitution Cum ex debito, 4 Mar 1589) placed this college under the jurisdiction of the cardinal archpriest of the basilica.
In 1593 Clement VIII suppressed the college and replaced it with a special office called the Congregatio Reverendae Fabricae S. Petri with all the functions of the college to which were added responsibility for contributions, legacies, and offerings for the Basilica; the handling of all civil and criminal cases related directly or indirectly to employees; and the granting of favors, privileges, and indults.
Benedict XIV (constitution Quanta curarum, Nov. 15, 1751) introduced considerable changes. He divided the congregation into two sections: the first or general section, with responsibility for handling contentious cases connected with the building; and the second or particular section, with complete control of the administration of the basilica.
The functions of this congregation remained unaltered even after the reforms of Pius VII (1816), Leo XII (1824), and Gregory XVI (1834), but were greatly limited under the pontificate of Pius IX. With an edict of Nov. 28, 1863, Pius IX withdrew all faculties relative to special tribunals and transferred them to the Congregation of the Council, leaving the general section without any province. He abolished the two sections and established a single congregation once again to which he gave authority for the administration and conservation of the basilica, and the administration of legacies and Mass stipends with authority to modify them according to circumstances.
With the general reform of Pius X (constitution Sapienti consilio, Jun. 29, 1908), all functions regarding legacies, Masses, and questions regarding them were transferred to the Congregation of the Council. The congregation known as "that of the Reverenda Fabrica S. Petri" would now be limited, according to the constitution, "to the sole care of the domestic affairs of the Basilica of the Prince of the Apostles." Paul VI's constitution Regimini Ecclesiae universae (Aug. 15, 1967) stated that the "Reverend Fabric of St. Peter's will continue to care for the matters concerning the Basilica of the Prince of the Apostles, according to the prescriptions of the constitution Sapienti consilio (29 Jun 1908), and in cooperation with the chapter of the basilica." Although not yet suppressed as such, the Reverenda Fabrica S. Petri is no longer listed with the congregations of the Roman Curia but under the Palatine Administration.
The Studio del Mosaico, established under Sixtus V (1585-1590) and canonically erected by Benedict XIII (1724-1730) is also under the authority of the Congregation of the Fabbrica.
A NOTE ON THE ARCHIVES OF THE FABBRICA: The Fabbrica maintains its own archives adminstratively separate from the ASV. The archives are under the direction of the Fabbrica itself. The archives contain a wealth of information. The most obvious areas of strength relate to artistic and architectural history with very special reference to St. Peter's Basilica. However, the collection offers much to administrative, legal, economic, and social historians, particularly regarding the city of Rome and of the Papal States. There are detailed accounts of expenditures following relatively consistent procedures and working methods over a period of almost five centuries. There is also considerable documentation regarding the religious, social, and economic life of individual cities throughout Italy, as well as in Malta, Spain, and Portugal. Traces exist, through extracts of wills and other details of bequests, and of the histories of individual families. There are the day-to-day records of the gradual demolition of Old St. Peter's and the construction and maintenance of the new. These records include registers, accounts, receipts, bills of authorization, and the like, covering expenditures for payments to the architects, artists, workmen, and materials for the basilica. This is complemented by other records of the dealings of the Fabbrica with its commissars in the various Italian dioceses and with nuncios in the Catholic courts.
Record types include legal cases, disputes, probation of wills, and pious bequests concerning the Fabbrica, especially in the period when the Fabbrica itself operated a legal tribunal, from 1547 to 1863.
It should be noted that the General Archives of the Reverenda Fabbrica of St. Peter's should not be confused with the Archives of the Chapter (or Canons) of St. Peter's Basilica. The manuscripts and records belonging to the Canons of St. Peter's are on deposit in the Vatican Library. No part is to be found in the archives of the Fabbrica, even though here and there, documents in the Archives of the Fabbrica necessarily refer to the Chapter. The Canons of St. Peter's form a local administration for the Basilica and are not part of the central government of the Holy See. Similarly distinct from the Fabbrica archives are those of the Cappella Giulia (see series listings under "Capella Musicale Pontificia" in the agencies of the Papal Court).
The Fabbrica also operates a photograhpic bureau for itself as well as for researchers called the Archivio Fotografico. This office is separate from the General Archives and is administered independently.
Like many archives, the Fabbrica of St. Peter's has known varying fortunes. Beginning in 1960, the documentation was rescued, cleaned, reassembled, and provided with a summary inventory. On October 22, 1984, Pope John Paul II reopened the Archives in a newly restored, impressive and spacious location high in the structure of St. Peter's itself, adjacent to the upper reaches of the Chapel of St. Leo the Great. In two octagonal chambers, each with its elegant cupola, and in a long passageway surrounding the cupola of the Chapel of St. Leo, are housed a multiplicity of modern glass-fronted metal cabinets each about one meter wide and three meters in height, and containing more than eight hundred linear meters of bound volumes, boxes, folders, and packs.
The archives of the Holy See, and in particular the archives of the Fabbrica, are characterized by a notable continuity. The Sack of Rome of 1527 bore down on an as yet young Fabbrica. While records of the Fabbrica did indeed perish, these were reconstructed from surviving sources shortly afterwards. Exceptional, too, among the extant series of Vatican archival material, no known losses occurred by way of confiscation in the Napoleonic era, so that overall the series are, with rare exceptions, continuous and complete from early days until the present time.
In addition to the core Fabbrica archives, three archival fonds, autonomous to varying degrees, are represented among the archival holdings of the Fabbrica. First are records relating to the monte di piet ̉operated by the Fabbrica, a combination of pawnshop and savings bank for the poor designed to protect them from fraud, usury, and extortion. Second, there are extensive records of the Quarantotti bank, seized by the Fabbrica in 1765. Finally, the Fabbrica archives also houses the records of the Venerable Archconfraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, erected in St. Peter's Basilica in 1540. This office is described elswhere in this guide.
In the process of reassembling the archives of the Fabbrica, two distinct kinds of records series were created. In some cases the organic nature of a group of materials were clearly evident and, as a result, they were grouped together as a distinct series. In other cases, however, the links were less clear and documents were gathered in somewhat artificial groupings. As a result, the series of the archives are designated by location rather than by content. The documents of the archives are found in several groupings assigned series names and numbers reflective of an older location system. The series title then is the official name assigned under this system. The series designation (shown as subtitle) is sometimes the title of an identifiable series; in other cases it is a description of an artificial grouping of documents. The character of each series is indicated in the scope section of each entry.
To see a general agency history for the Curia Romana, enter "FIN ID VATV214-A"
From the description of Agency history record. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 145567123
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