The Abadia de Montserrat Collection was bequeathed to the Abbey by P. Ramón Roca-Puig at his death in 2001. It consists of more than 1500 papyrus and parchment pieces provenant from Egypt of great historical and literary value, ranging from the Ptolemaic period down to the s. X CE. The collection was formed by P. Ramón Roca-Puig (1906-2001) himself in his travels to Egypt and through purchases from several European antiquaries.
In 1998, P. Ramón Roca-Puig decided to substitute the name Papyri Montserratenses II in the place of Papyri Barcinonenses, since he spent the last four years of his life at the monastery, to which he donated all his possessions, but for practical reasons the name of the collection was subsequently changed to P.Monts.Roca. Some of the pieces are real treasures, both literary and documentary. The papyri are basically written in Greek and Coptic, although there is also a considerable number of Latin, Arabic and Demotic texts.
But the Roca-Puig collection was not the first one to be housed at Montserrat: in 1928 P. Bonaventura Ubach (1879-1960) brought around 200 papyrus fragments, mainly Greek texts, but also a few Coptic, Arabic and Demotic documents. As well as this small collection, he was also responsible for the acquisition of the magnificent oriental collections of the Museum Biblicum and the Montserrat Library at the Abbey.
Through the patronage of his brother-in-law Josep Palau-Ribes i Casamitjana – who thus gave his name to the collection – P. Josep O’Callaghan (1922-2001) acquired, during the decade of the sixties, the more than 2000 manuscripts which form the Palau-Ribes Collection. This was deposited at the Centre Borja, in Sant Cugat del Vallès, where it became the basis of the Seminari de Papirologia of the Facultat de Teologia de Barcelona until it was transformed into the Facultat de Teologia de Catalunya in 1983 and the Seminar disappeared.
When O’Callaghan died the papyri were taken to the Arxiu Històric de la Companyia de Jesús a Catalunya, where they are kept at present. Approximately one hundred papyri of the collection have been published, mainly in the volumes of Studia Papyrologica, the journal founded by O’Callaghan in 1962. This relatively small sample of the collection is however very indicative of its richness: chronologically it ranges from s. VIII BCE to s. X CE, and it contains texts in Greek, Latin, Coptic, Demotic, Hebrew, Arabic and Syriac, the nature of which is extremely varied: from literary texts, both pagan and Christian (the Coptic Gospel of s. V CE is especially remarkable, being the oldest one preserved to us), down to official documents concerning the administration of Egypt, as well as magical and school texts.
The Fundación Pastor de Estudios Clàsicos, currently presided by Dr. Emilio Crespo (Universidad Autònoma de Madrid UAM), possesses a papyrus collection donated by Penélope Photiadés to Dr. M. Fernàndez Galiano at the time he was the president of the Foundation. Although it is smaller than the collections of the Abadia de Montserrat and the Palau-Ribes, its nearly 400 pieces are of a similar nature. Remarkable are a series of documents written in Coptic dialects scarcely documented in the whole of the papyrus collections world-wide and which are, therefore, of the greatest importance for the studies on Coptic dialectology. Another interesting piece is part of Old Testament Codex no. 967, parts of which are also preserved at Montserrat. Other Greek documentary texts were published by Daris, O’Callaghan, Youtie, Treu and Photiadés herself. The Fundación Pastor Collection was restored in the decade of the nineties by Victoria Spottorno, a member of our research team, and is now kept under stable preservation conditions.