The Parmense collection


This comprises the Library's core collection, viz. the 500 codices mostly of religious content acquired by Paolo Maria Paciaudi as well as all the manuscripts that were purchased by his successors. With pride Paciaudi wrote in his Memoirs that he had filled two cupboards and a half with manuscripts; not many were bought by Ireneo Affò and even less under Matteo Luigi Canonici. Under Angelo Pezzana's directorship the manuscript collection, however, grew immensely.

In 1816 Maria Luigia of Austria bought for the Library the collection of Giovanni Bernardo De Rossi (1464 printed books and 1624 manuscripts, 1432 of which in Hebrew, 10 in Greek, 85 Latin, 31 in Vernacular and  others in other Eastern languages. The De Rossi manuscripts were incorporated as a group in the Parmense collection by Pezzana's successor Federico Odorici, director between 1862 and 1876. Other codices instead were 'scattered' in the Parmense collection: this happened to the manuscripts coming from the collection of the Counts Alessandro and Stefano Sanvitale, and Sofia Bulgarini, the widow of Giovanni Bonaventura Porta. Angelo Pezzana had bought these books and those of Michele Colombo from the widow thus managing to avoid that all these codices were purchased for the British Museum by Antonio Panizzi.
The collection is still open and recently (1994) 25 Ethiopian manuscripts of the Mordini collection  plus 20 more were bought  for the Library by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage as well as some collections of letters important for local history.

Amongst the most important manuscripts in this collection we can recall: the De virginitate Sanctae Mariae by the Bishop Ildephonsus of Toledo (MS. Parm. 1650), the autograph of the De prospectiva pingendi by Piero della Francesca (MS. Parm. 1576), and Dante's Comedy (MS. Parm. 3285), one of the text's most ancient witnesses.