History of the library


        Some dates concerning Chalki Holy Trinity monastery and its library

  • At the latest in 1540: Holy Trinity monastery was re-founded on the island of Chalki by patriarch Metrophanes III (1565-1572, 1579-1580) of Constantinople. The foundation of the library dates from this time.
  • January 1572:  the first inventory of the library.
  • 1625-1626 : Thomas Roe visits the library: he acquires some manuscripts for his personal use, but also for other persons (codices currently held at the Bodleian Library, Oxford and at the British Library, London).
  • 1729 : François Sevin acquires several manuscripts on behalf of the French Royal Library (today kept at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
  • 1772 : Renovation of the monastery under higumen Samuel Kophos.
  • 1800: Joseph-Dacre Carlyle acquires New Testament manuscripts (today held at Lambeth Palace Library, London).
  • 1821 : Fire at the monastery.
  • 1844 : Renovation of the Holy Trinity monastery and inauguration of theTheological School within its premises.
  • 1853 : Construction of a stone building to house the library.
  • 1894 : Earthquake resulting in the destruction of the monastery.
  • 1930s: Transfer of the Chalki manuscripts to the Oecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul.

Main sources of information for the contents of the library at different periods

  • 1572 : An inventory of books was drawn up; it is today only known from a copy by Stephan Gerlach, itself recopied by Martin Crusius: Tübingen, Universitätsbibliothek, Mb 37 (circa 130 books; inventory written in Greek).
  • 1677 : Partial description of the library by John Covel (19 mss; in English).
  • 1777 : Description of some books by Domenico Sestini (about ten mss ; in Italian)
  • circa 1840: Inventory by Minoïde Mynas: Paris, suppl. gr. 755, ff. 94-97v (100 mss; in Greek).
  • 1862: Inventory by Th. Kyriakides (not found; in Greek).
  • 1908: Study of hagiographical manuscripts (A. Ehrhard, 33 mss; in German).
  • 1914: Inventory of hagiographical manuscripts (H .Delehaye, « Catalogus codicum hagiographicorum graecorum bibliothecae Scholae theologicae in Chalce insula », Analecta Bollandiana, 46, 1926, pp. 5-63; « Ad Catalogum codicum hagiographicorum graecorum bibliothecae Scholae theologicae in Chalce insula supplementum », Analecta Bollandiana, 46, 1928, pp. 158-160: 30 mss ; in Latin).
  • 1956: Catalogue by A. Tsakopoulos (147 entries, 139 mss present ; in Greek).
  • 1962 : Microfilming by Dumbarton Oaks (139 mss present)

State of library

At present, 140 manuscripts of the Holy Trinity monastery library are kept at the Oecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, of which they form one of the main collections, i.e.  Hagia Trias (together with those of  Panaghia Kamariotissa monastery at Chalki and of the Theological School).

Additionally about fifty manuscripts that once belonged to the Holy Trinity monastery library are to be found scattered throughout several European and American libraries. Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana (Città del Vaticano); Εθνική Βιβλιοθήκη της Ελλάδος (Athina); British Library (London); Lambeth Palace Library (London); Bodleian Library (Oxford); Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris); Athos, Iviron Monastery (Greece); Princeton, University Library (USA); ÖNB (Wien).


Further information :

For a fuller description of the history of the library see Mathieu Cassin’s article "Bibliothèque de la Sainte-Trinité de Chalki", published in the Carnet de recherches Manuscrits en Méditerrannée on the Hypotheses.org platform


"This book belongs to the powerful Trinity". Possession note of manuscripts of Holy Trinity monastery at Chalki.