SCC Explorer. An Interactive Platform on the History of the Congregation of the Council

Research Project

The SCC Explorer Platform is an interactive integrated web platform dedicated to the history of the Sacred Congregation of the Council, the SCC. This institution, founded in 1564 and whose activity and influence reaches to the present day, was one of the most active dicasteries of the Roman Curia - the complex of organs and authorities that constitute the administrative apparatus of the Holy See - between the modern and contemporary ages. This dicastery was appointed for more than 350 years to oversee the correct interpretation and implementation of the Council of Trent. The Congregation of the Council was composed of cardinals and other personnel and met periodically to discuss and decide legal cases arriving from all over the Catholic world. It had consultative, judicial and gracious functions and its jurisdiction ideally extended to the whole world.

The project is the result of many years of research conducted on the dicastery and on several related topics by the Max Planck Research Group Governance of the Universal Church after the Council of Trent and more recently by the Research Group Normative knowledge in the praxis of the Congregation of the Council. The platform will organically link research data and scientific results on various topics, methodological reflections, as well as experiences and experiments in the field of publication of sources, data modelling and visualisation. The SCC Explorer Platform will provide access to various electronic resources and rich open-source databases representing the results of various research projects, both individual and collective, carried out by members of the research group and its external collaborators.

The SCC Explorer Platform is articulated in different projects and gives access to various resources. The projects are designed to explore specific aspects of the history of the Congregation of the Council, while the resources offer reflections and technical tools that can also be applied to other areas of knowledge. Specifically, the following projects will be accessible through the platform.  

  • The SCC References Explorer is an online interactive bibliographic database on the history of the Congregation of the Council, its legal competencies and the existing historiography on this dicastery. Users can approach these topics thanks to an online database of more than 2.000 specialised works on the Congregation of the Council. The database is composed of works of legal doctrine and academic literature published between the 16th century and today and will be continuously updated. To organize the material and offer analytic search options, the research group elaborated a system of keywords based on the specific legal competences of the dicastery.
  • The SCC Timeline Explorer will provide the possibility to visualise, in a synoptic way, various aspects of the history, competences and functioning of the Congregation of the Council. This visualization, suitable also for a general public, aims to facilitate the contextualization of the activities of the dicastery in the broader framework of the evolution of the Roman Curia, the history of the Church and the Global History of Law.
  • Through an interactive timeline on the history of the Congregation of the Council users can access important and unpublished data on the competencies, personnel and modus procedendi of the dicastery. The history of the SCC from its origins to the present day is displayed in the context of the history of the Papacy and the Roman Curia, Church History and Global Legal History.
  • The SCC Places Explorer aims to offer a geographical contextualization of the activities and notable locations of the Congregation of the Council in Rome between the 16th and 20th centuries. On the basis of a dataset created from unpublished documents, scholarly literature and texts of legal doctrine, users will be able to display the official seats of the congregation, the places where its members operated and assembled, where its archives were kept, and follow its evolution over time against the backdrop of the profound changes that affected the eternal city.
  • The SCC Compendium will provide online resources for understanding the legal language employed by the SCC in the performance of its duties between the 16th and 20th centuries in the specific legal-historical context. Through a structured list of headwords, users can enhance their knowledge of legal concepts and practices, traditions and rituals, typologies of documents, roles and functions of the personnel of one of the great dicasteries of the Roman Curia.
  • The SCC Libri Decretorum Explorer will offer the scientific community easier access to the content of the volumes of the decrees of the SCC. The Research Group has financed the digitalisation of the first 68 manuscript volumes of the series, which constitute the initial nucleus of the dicastery’s activity and precede the printed collections of the Congregation’s decrees promoted later. For the first time, it will be possible to access the complete series of decrees (even for those who are not familiar with archival research). The group has also created a complex set of metadata that will be accessible as an accompaniment to the images.
  • The SCC Positiones Explorer will make accessible for the first time more than 35.000 judicial cases decided by the SCC between 1564 and 1681 accompanied by an important metadata apparatus.

The platform is created from scratch by the Research Group, particularly in the PhD project Expressing legal historical data in digital environment: methods and approaches for the Congregation of the Council data analysis and visualization. All the code is available on the GitHub page of the Research Group.

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