Exhibit at Vatican Featured One of World’s Largest Collections of Rare Biblical Texts

"Verbum Domini II” is an initiative of the Green family, founders and owners of Hobby Lobby

Rome. The second extraordinary exhibition of Verbum Domini at Braccio di Carlo Magno in the Vatican (the first one was held in 2012) concluded with a thanksgiving reception on the evening of Thursday, June 26th, hosted by the American Bible Society, represented by Catholic Ministries Director Mario J. Paredes and the Chief Operating Officer of the Museum of the Bible, Cary Summers. This museum, due to open in Washington, DC, in 2017, is another initiative promoted by the Green family, and especially Steve Green, who owns most of the collection of Bible artifacts and objects which were on display from April 2 to June 22, 2014.

The Greens are well-known Christians who founded and own a craft store chain that has been much in the news lately in the United States: Hobby Lobby.

The purpose of the reception was two-fold: acknowledging the collaboration and contribution of the various partners from the Vatican Museum and Vatican Library, and announcing that plans are already underway for a Verbum Domini III in 2016. Appreciation on behalf of the Vatican was voiced by the keynote speaker and guest of honor, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Catholic Biblical Federation, who in his address spoke also of the close connections between the Christian concept of family and the relevant teachings in the Bible.

“This exhibit has been made available to the public by the generosity of the Green Collection of the Green Family in cooperation with the Vatican Apostolic Library, the Vatican Museums, the American Bible Society, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, the Libreria Editrice Vaticana and with 13 other prestigious international institutions”, the senior prelate said. “And I wish here to express my deep gratitude to the Green Family and to all these institutions as well as to their people who have worked so hard to make all this possible.”

But most of all, he was appreciative of the itinerant character of the exhibition.

“After two years this Bible exhibit has finally come back to St. Peter’s here in Rome, after traveling in the world: United States of America, Cuba and Israel. And it is now looking forward to go to Chile, Argentina, Russia and who knows where else”, he pointed out. “This traveling attitude corresponds meaningfully to the theme chosen for the Verbum Domini II exhibit: ‘God’s Word goes out to the Nations’!”

Besides being “exactly the missionary mandate which we Christians have received as we read in Mark 16:15: [Jesus said to the disciples]: Go throughout the whole world and preach the gospel to the whole human race”, he went on, “the ‘missionary mandate’ so explicitly described in the Verbum Domini II exhibit along the dimensions of space and time, is being reminded to us today with great strength by Pope Francis”. And that’s why Archbishop Paglia emphasized that Verbum Domini II can be seen also as a providential event, and not just a mere coincidence.

“Since the beginning of his pontificate [Francis] challenges us all to go out to the peripheries of the world, not only in the spatial dimension but especially in the existential dimension!” he concluded. “In the today’s existential peripheries, a very important existential periphery is the Family. I am deeply convinced that the Bible is the first concrete aid for the families! My dream is that every family has his Bible in his own language. And I am very glad and grateful to know that the Green Collection with this exhibit, together with the American Bible Society, will join us at the World Family Day to be held next year in Philadelphia and we hope that Pope Francis will be present”.

Verbum Domini III, the upcoming third edition of the exhibit, said Summers, is motivated by the resounding success of Verbum Domini II. Underthe title “God’s Word Goes Out to the Nations”, the second edition of the exhibit brought together over 200 rare and historical artifacts to tell the history of the Bible’s journey across the globe.

“It was quite an amazing exhibit”, he said. “It was open for about seventy days with some 140, 000 visitors from well over 100 countries; it was extremely well received and we were delighted with the outcome.” In terms of visitors alone, it was an exponential growth, as about 45,000 visitors showed up at the first edition of the exhibit in 2012. Summers also added that the 37,000 square meter museum will be located near the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, just two blocks away from the National Mall.

“So we look forward to continue to bring the exhibit around the world in order to present the treasures of the Bible to various communities around the world”, said Mario Paredes. Besides having already this exhibit in Israel (which is still ongoing), he confirmed and reemphasized that Verbum Domini will be also set up in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families in late September 2015, to then proceed to Buenos Aires in Argentina, then to Santiago in Cuba, and then to Russia—possibly Moscow and Saint Petersburg—from where invitations were received.

But the second extraordinary exhibition of Verbum Domini went much further than a mere display of objects, however valuable and unique they might have been. In fact, a series of informative and compelling conferences and lectures, titled “Speaker Series at the Vatican: The Bible to the World”, were held from April to June in conjunction with the exhibit. A number of acclaimed scholars and experts on the history of the Bible elaborated on aspects and facets of translation and transmission of Sacred Scripture, under the coordination and guidance of Jerry Pattengale, the director of the Green Scholars Initiative—a think tank sponsored by Steve Green—and Cary Summers.

Related: “The Bible and the New Evangelization” by Alberto Carosa (January 12, 2013)


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About Alberto Carosa 37 Articles
Alberto Carosa is a Catholic journalist who writes from Rome, especially for US Catholic newspapers and periodicals.