The Archival Center


Biblioteca

Bibliotheca Montereyensis-Angelorum Dioeceseosa

In early 1968 the old Bibliotheca Montereyensis-Angelorum Dioeceseos was removed from storage and transferred to Queen of Angels Seminary, where it was catalogued and categorized. The historic library was eventually placed on permanent display in a newly restored room of the adjacent Mission San Fernando. The provenance of the Bibliotheca is fascinating. Though most of the books had long been in California, it was only in the years after 1842 that they found their way into the theological library formed by Bishop Francisco Garcia Diego y Moreno for the area’s initial seminary.

The Move from Santa Barbara in 1844

What books had been gathered from the missions and private donors were moved from Santa Barbara, in 1844, to quarters provided at nearby Santa Ines for the newly autonomous Seminary of Our Lady of Refuge. During its four decades at Santa Ines, the collection occupied a large room in the central part of the old mission building, not far from the two-story adobe housing the Seminary proper.

When the seminary’s prospectus was broadened to include non-clerical aspirants, the college, later placed under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was moved to another site about a mile and a half from the mission, on the vast 36,000 acre ranch. While students continued to have access to the Bibliotheca, the seminary library was never transferred to the new location.

Biblioteca2

Hubert Howe Bancroft visits Santa Ines in 1874

No specific check-list of titles for any given Period has been discovered, though an inventory drawn up in 1853, mentions volumes as belonging to the library. In 1874, Hubert Howe Bancroft visited Santa Ines and recorded seeing about 600 tomes in the Bibliotheca. Sometime between November, 1882 and the spring of 1884, Bishop Francis Mora had the library moved to his residence in Los Angeles, adjacent to Saint Vibiana’s Cathedral. When a new three-story edifice was erected, in 1888-1889, the books were placed in specially designed quarters off a tunnel-way connecting the rectory with the tower of the church.

The Bibliotheca Montereyensis-Angelorum Dioeceseos remained at the cathedral, until 1933, when an earthquake so damaged the building that it had to be completely replaced. At that time, the collection was taken to the diocesan preparatory seminary, located in Hancock Park. Accommodations were made for storing the library in the basement area immediately beneath the central foyer. From that time onwards, the Bibliotheca ceased to be utilized as a learning tool.

Shortly after the opening, at Saint John’s Seminary, of the Edward Laurence Doheny Memorial Library, on September 22, 1940, the Bibliotheca Montereyensis-Angelorum Dioeceseos was again crated and transported the sixty-five miles to Camarillo. There, it was placed in two caged rooms on the bottom level of the reference stacks. Sporadic attempts were made to acquisition the collection and a number of obviously valuable tomes were indeed assimilated into the active seminary library. Several of the more attractively bound book sets were used to fill out the shelves left vacant in the seminary’s parlor by the removal of a large collection of rock specimens.

On February 7, 1968, authorization was obtained from chancery officials of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to reactivate the Bibliotheca Montereyensis-Angelorum Dioeceseos as an historical collection. The books were carefully cleaned, repaired and arranged into the ten-category system used at the Apostolic College of San Fernando in Mexico City. Post-mission accession marks were removed and mutilated or faded bookplates replaced. In the later months of 1968, the Bibliotheca Montereyensis-Angelorum Dioeceseos, once the largest and most complete of the mission libraries, emerged from the shadows of another era.

Further information on this library can be found in a book issued in 1969 under the title “A Bibliophilic Odyssey“.