No one expects the Roman Inquisitions…

TCD MS 1245 36rThis document, from the so-called ‘Roman Inquisitions’ dates from 1626.  It bears the signature and seal of the Franciscan historian Luke Wadding, and contains a statement by him regarding an accused Belgian man.  Several documents of Irish interest exist within the collection, including those referring to Irish men and women accused of various transgressions against Church regulations, as well as Irish clergy involved in the bureaucracy of the investigations.

The Records of the Roman Inquisition and Dataria (TCD MSS 1223-1277) is one of the lesser-known collections in the Manuscripts & Archives Research Library.  It is one of the largest gatherings of documents of this type in any European or American repository, and forms part of a larger collection of Church-related documents taken from the Vatican to Paris in 1813 by Napoleon, who dreamed of a central archive for the empire in the French capital.

The documents include papal bulls and letters from the time of Boniface IX (1389) to Pius VI (1787), sentences of trials regarding heresy, sorcery, bigamy and other matters from the 16th and 17th centuries, and other reports – sent to Rome – on litigation before provincial tribunals.   The documents found their way, via a circuitous route, to Trinity College Library in 1854, ultimately through the aegis of the then Vice-Provost Charles W. Wall.  Much of the rest of the collection was lost or destroyed, a fact which makes the TCD documents all the more historically valuable.

The Preservation and Conservation Department plan to carry out conservation work on many of the collection’s volumes in need of repair, and funding is currently being sought for this project.

Ellen O’Flaherty

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