During an evening reception at the Vatican on Thursday, March 1st, Archivist and Librarian of Holy Roman Church Cardinal Raffaele Farina, accompanied by the prefect of the Vatican Library Msgr. Cesare Pasini, thanked the organizers of the Verbum Domini (Word of the Lord) exhibition on behalf of the Holy Father.
It was an interreligious exhibition of some 150 unique items consisting of rare Bible texts and related materials dating as far back as the third century B.C, which was hosted in the Vatican’s Braccio di Carlo Magno exhibition venue for Lent and Easter, from March 1st to April 15th, 2012. Two-thirds of the items on display come from the Green Collection, the world’s largest private collection of this kind, owned by the Green family, with the rest being made available by other collectors.
The biblical texts come from Jewish, Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant traditions, reflecting the inter-confessional heritage and cooperation behind efforts to preserve and pass on God’s word.
Their common thread is the fact that they were able to find ways to cooperate and collaborate in the preservation, translation and dissemination of Scripture. As a matter of fact, the different faith communities do have common ground in the biblical text, the dean of the Pontifical Biblical Institute’s biblical faculty Jesuit Father Stephen Pisano said, and an exhibit like Verbum Domini is a reminder of that joint heritage.
In the words of Steve Green, entrepreneur and representative of the Green family, the exhibition was inspired by Verbum Domini, Pope Benedict XVI’s reflection on the 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Bible.
The official opening of the exhibition was preceded by a presentation conference, with the participation of Green, who is also a primary benefactor of the Green Collection and its more than 40,000 biblical antiquities; manuscripts scholar and director of the Green Collection, Scott Carroll, who was also curator of the Verbum Domini exhibition; and two senior emissaries of the American Bible Society, its president Lamar Vest and his right-hand man, Mario Paredes, who is the presidential liaison with Roman Catholic ministries.
“Our job in the exhibition and through the American Bible Society,” Lamar Vest said, “is to say: it is time to take the Bible off the shelves and put it into our hearts and lives.”
Paredes, acting as master of ceremonies at the reception celebrating the official opening of Verbum Domini, introduced and gave the floor to Cardinal Farina, who conveyed to the distinguished audience the heartfelt thanks of the Holy Father for having enabled the Vatican to house such a major Bible exhibition.
“You can rest assured that the Holy Father is being kept duly informed about this, including our being together here tonight,” Farina told the gathering. “He is thankful the Vatican was offered the opportunity to host such an unprecedented event.”
Farina concluded: “This is the most valuable exhibition the Vatican has ever had the chance to host.”