For decades, Fr. Columba Stewart, a Benedictine Monk of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, has traveled the world in an effort to preserve manuscripts belonging to endangered communities. 

On this episode, Fr. Stewart joins Commonweal editor Dominic Preziosi to discuss how he first got involved in this work, the care and attention it requires, and why digitizing ancient manuscripts remains so necessary. 

These texts, Fr. Stewart points out, are in a sense the original “internet of things.” Books and fragile documents carry not just the stories and ideas that connected diverse communities, but also the physical traces of the individual scribes and librarians who cared for them.

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