[Records], 1466-1922.


[Records], 1466-1922.

The archives of the Fabbrica 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 history 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, with registers, accounts, receipts, bills of authorization, and the like covering expenditure for payment of the architects, artists, workmen, and materials for the Basilica. This is complemented by other sections containing records of the dealings of the Fabbrica with its commissars in the various Italian dioceses and with Nuncios in the Catholic courts, and similarly the records of 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 General Archives of the Reverenda Fabbrica of St. Peter's are not to be confused with the Archives of the Chapter of St. Peter's Basilica, that is to say, with the manuscripts and records belonging to the Canons of St. Peter's. The earlier part of that collection can be consulted on deposit in the Vatican Library. No part is to be found in the archives of the Fabbrica, even though here and there the latter necessarily refer to the Chapter. Similarly distinct from the Fabbrica archives are those of the Cappella Giulia. Under the name of Archivio Fotografico, the Fabbrica for its own maintenance needs and as a service to researchers and other interested parties operates a photographic bureau. This office is separate from the General Archives and is administered independently. Like many archives, that of the Fabbrica of St. Peter's has known varying fortunes. However, in the space of some twenty years, beginning in 1960 the documentation was rescued, cleaned, reassembled and provided with a summary inventory, and on 22 October 1984 Pope John Paul II reopened the Archives in a newly restored, impressive and spacious location nestling 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 sweep of passageway surrounding the cupola of the Chapel of St. Leo, are housed a multiplicity of modern glass-fronted metal cabinets each some metre wide and three metres in height, and containing over 800 linear metres of bound volumes, boxes, folders and packs. The archives of the Holy See, 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 and while records of the Fabbrica did indeed perish, these were reconstructed from surviving sources shortly afterwards. Exceptionally, too, among administrations at the Vatican 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. Three minor archival fonds, autonomous to varying degrees, are represented in the Fabbrica archives. First come the records relating to the monte di pieta operated by the Fabbrica, a variety of pawn shop cum savings bank for the poor designed to protect them from fraud, usury and extortion. Secondly there are the extensive records of the Quarantotti bank,seized by the Fabbrica in 1765. Finally, the Fabbrica archives also house the records of the Venerable Archconfraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, erected in St. Peter's Basilica in 1540. (See Record ID )̲̲ 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 to be 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) in some cases is 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. Finding aids for each series are listed in the descriptions that follow. Researchers in thearchives should also be aware of the existence of an extensive card index in the archives which was prepared by Father Cipriano Cipriani, a former archivist. The cards reflect a set of observations on important or interesting documents with citations to specific series, packs and individual documents. See Michele Basso, I Privilege e le Consuetudini della Rev.da Fabbrica di San Pietro In Vaticano, (Rome, 1987-1988). This private publication is in two volumes. Volume one contains salient historical information on the history of the Fabbrica and its various competencies. It has information on the administration of the congregation and on the types of documentation to be found in the archives. Volume two is a list of the series in the archives which may be of some additional use to the list that follows.

ca. 635 linear m.


SNAC Resource ID: 6838370

Bentley Historical Library

Related Entities

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Catholic Church. Congregatio Reverendae Fabricae Sancti Petri.

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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 sub...

Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano

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