Columba Stewart, OSB, is a Benedictine monk of Saint John’s Abbey and Executive Director of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML) at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, MN. HMML began as a project in 1965 to microfilm monastic manuscripts in Cold War Europe. Since then the project has spread to libraries in Ethiopia, the Middle East, South India, and the Timbuktu region of Mali. HMML digitized manuscripts in Syria from 2005-2012 and has been active in Iraq since 2009, working in many areas since devastated by civil war and the forces of the Islamic State. In current projects, HMML is digitizing the major Islamic manuscript collections of the Old City of Jerusalem and family libraries rescued from Timbuktu. This presentation will introduce the various manuscript cultures represented in HMML’s projects, survey recent threats to them, and describe HMML’s efforts to ensure that the contents of these irreplaceable witnesses to centuries of thought and history will not be lost forever.
Co-Sponsored by the Cottrill-Rolfes Chair of Catholic Studies