Pauline Library

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1053 Budapest, Papnövelde utca 7.

The library operating in the building of the Central Seminary was filled up with books by Pauline monks in the early 1770s. Although it has been stripped of its book collection several times in recent centuries, its beautifully carved, glossy furnishings and huge ceiling frescoes still make it one of the most beautiful Baroque library halls.

The hall is two storeys high, covered from ceiling to ceiling with bookshelves, with spiral staircases in the two inner corners leading up to the gallery that circles the upper floor. The furnishings were designed by the Bavarian-born Pauline monk Antal Rutschmann, and were made by a small group of Pauline brothers. The special feature of the oak furniture, treated with beeswax, is that writing desks, pen and ink stands are hidden under the shelves.

A huge fresco preserved in its original state can be seen on the ceiling, which depicts the servants of theology’s female figures, representing various sciences from philosophy through medicine to poetry. From the four corners of the vault, the four great Fathers of the Western Church look down on the readers: Saint Jerome (with a lion), Saint Ambrose (with a beehive), Saint Augustine (with a flaming heart) and Saint Gregory the Great (with the dove of the Holy Spirit). The depictions were presumably prepared by Johann Bergl and his colleagues, who also painted the ceiling pictures of the adjacent Church of St Mary the Virgin.

It is a miracle that the library has survived the storms of history. Its stock was filled by the Paulines around 1770 with books rescued and preserved from the Turks, However, the most valuable part, containing codices and maps, was taken away by order of King Joseph II, and only the works on theological topics remained in the hall. However, when King Francis I. founded the Central Seminary in 1805, which is still operated here today, he allowed the shelves of the former Palatine Library to be stocked with the second copies of books from monastery libraries collected for the University Library. From then on, the collection was used by seminary students for their studies.

Today, the library contains 8,000 volumes and a total of 16,000 works. The library's collection was mainly written in Latin, these are mostly works from the 16th and 18th centuries. The Protestant books are mainly in Slovak and German. Apart from its impressive hall, the library's value also lies in the fact that 15 volumes are stored here from before the 1500s.

Did you know? The National Museum and Library was opened here in 1803, with the first library hall of the present National Széchenyi Library, and the first home of the Hungarian National Museum.

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