The Biblioteca Angelica (the Angelica Library) in Rome takes its name from the Augustinian who had most to do with founding it.
Angelo Rocca was born at Rocca (now renamed Arecevia) near Ancona in the year 1545.
He was received at the age of seven into the Augustinian monastery (convento) at Camerino, studied at Augustinian houses in Perugia, Rome, and Venice, and in 1577 graduated as doctor in theology from Padua.
He became secretary to the Prior General of the Augustinians in 1579, was placed at the head of the Vatican printing office in 1585.
He was entrusted with the superintendence of the projected editions of the Bible and the writings of the Fathers of the Church.
It is mainly to his efforts that the Vulgate edition of the Bible was published during the pontificate of Pope Clement VIII.
During his work and historical research, he became accustomed to the historic manuscripts stored in - some of which have not been made accessible until modern times. He edited the works of Giles of Rome O.S.A. (also known as Egidio Colonna) in 1581, and of Augustine of Ancona O.S.A. (also called Augustinus Triumphus) in 1582.
In 1595 he was appointed in charge of the small church (cappella) in the residence of the Pope, and in 1605 was made the titular prelate of Tagaste in Numidia (the former diocese of St Augustine).
He conceived the idea of amalgamating two libraries. The first was the extensive community library of the Convento Sant'Agostino (the principal house of the Order in Rome). As early as 1518 it had 1,500 volumes (a large collection at that era).
The second library was his own vast collection of books (then containing approximately 20,000 volumes).
He entrusted the management of this library to his fellow Augustinians at the Convent of Sant'Agostino, the central house of the Augustinian Order.
By 1626 - six years after Rocca's death - this large amalgamated library was called the Biblioteca Angelica ("Angelica Library"), in honour of Angelo Rocca O.S.A.
He made a set of regulations that required the library to be open to all persons, and to be without censorship or governmental restriction.
This was a revolutionary step. Books were valuable, and were usually kept in cabinets that required a key for access.
But the library of the Augustinians at Rome was formally established as open to all scholars on 23rd October 1614.
It became the first public library in Rome and Europe.
These innovative regulations of Angelo Rocca aroused the positive interest of scholars and the public, and the reputation of the library soon spread internationally. He died in Rome on 8th April 1620.
Rocca had arranged for the library a suitable centre, and its own source of income.
Pope Alexander VII (1665-1667) entrusted the construction of a new building for the library to architect Francesco Borromini.
Five old houses were demolished and some land facing the Convento along Via de S. Agostino was resumed.
(Conrtinued on the next page.)