The Maurits Sabbe Library is a first-class, internationally renowned library in the domain of theology and religious studies. Besides its extensive research collection, it represents a heritage of preservation, bringing to life multiple academic disciplines.
Since its foundation in 1969, the Maurits Sabbe Library has always had a special mission for preserving the printed religious heritage of the Low Countries. The heritage collection comprises of an especially rich collection of about 200,000 volumes of rare books (dating from before 1801): among other artifacts, 1200 manuscripts, 702 incunabula, about 2,000 post-incunabula, 7,500 printed books from the later 16th century, approximately 60,000 volumes from the 17th century and about 115,000 volumes from the 18th century. In terms of both quantity and quality, this collection belongs among the richest collections in Flanders.
Parts of this extraordinary collection of precious books are the Anjou Bible and the Library of Cardinal d’Alsace, both recognized as top masterpieces by the Flemish Community.
For its heritage collection, the Maurits Sabbe Library pursues the following policy of acquisition: items belonging to the religious heritage of the Low Countries, in particular with a legacy in theology and philosophy, but also items with relevance to a broader spectrum of areas of cultural heritage such as history, science, art and law. The collection contains a number of important subcollections originating from church and diocesan libraries as well as from influential religious institutions such as the Jesuits, Franciscans, Capuchins and Dominicans, etc. This unique and valuable collection is an important witness to the history of the book and libraries in the Low Countries. In addition to theological tracts and religious books, it also comprises many works from various fields of science and the arts. Besides an explicit responsibility of being a heritage library, the Maurits Sabbe Library has also the general mission to act as the “bibliographic memory” of theology and religious studies.