Historical library

From its inception, the Capuchin Order supported the idea of having a room for storing essential books in every monastery. These spaces generally respected free Capuchin architecture. One of the exceptions is the library in Brno.

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Photo: Ambrož Guzek

Project of two brothers

We are uncertain which part of the monastery the original library was located in. It is certain, however, that in the early 18th century, it ceased to suffice. Plans to build a new library were accomplished in 1763 when the foundation stone was laid. The construction was finished in 1764. It became a part of the newly built wing of the monastery called the Trenck wing. Indeed, it is given in connection with money bequeathed to Capuchins by famous mercenary commander Franz Baron Trenck.

Noticeable credit for construction of the pretentious library goes mainly to Brno architect František Antonín Grimm. He not only designed it but probably also funded it. The initiative for this project came from his brother Jiří, by religious name Antonín of Brno, who was at that time the Capuchin Provincial.

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Photo: Ambrož Guzek

Unusually beautiful

The library is unusual in its size and consists of three rooms, which are approximately at the height of two floors of the neighbouring wing of the monastery. But what really makes it exceptional, in the Capuchin environment, is its rich decoration.

The large intermediate hall is dominated by a ceiling fresco by an important Central European painter Josef Stern. It shows a dialogue of two greatest theologians of the 13th century: Saint Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican and Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, a Franciscan who points at the crucified Christ as the source of true wisdom.

High quality wooden baroque furniture have been preserved in the library to these days.

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Photo: Ambrož Guzek

Books from benefactors

Capuchin book collections expanded largely due to benefactors, which was no exception even in the Brno monastery. Part of the books were donated by various priests from the neighbourhood. As a whole, the library arose from a defunct parish library in Kamenica near Brno. Other volumes come from Brno printer Jakub Maximilian Svoboda.

In the library, there were also so-called Libri Prohibiti, banned books, which only some priests had access to. Most of them were Protestant works that the brothers kept because of their studies.

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Photo: Ambrož Guzek

Change of ownership

In 1950, after the event K and closing of the monastery, Brno University Library took over the administration of funds. The Capuchins took their library back in 1993. The Capuchin Historical Library is currently accessible only to researchers.