February 07, 2024
President Peter Kilpatrick, Charlene Della Ratta and Raphael Della Ratta, Duilia de Mello, Livia Lopes, and Provost Aaron Dominguez launched the 100th anniversary of Oliveira Lima Library on Feb. 5. (Catholic University/Patrick G. Ryan)

The Catholic University of America launched the centennial anniversary of its Oliveira Lima Library on Feb. 5, with an invited gathering of the library’s friends and supporters, officials of the embassies of Brazil and Portugal, U.S. diplomats, guests, and university leaders.

Hosted by Duilia de Mello, Ph.D., executive director of the Oliveira Lima Library and vice provost for global strategies, the event highlighted the library’s importance as the largest collection of Brasiliana outside of Brazil, its home as a space for significant research, and its status as a bridge promoting friendship between the United States and Brazil.

The Oliveira Lima Library was established at Catholic University in 1924, after Manoel de Oliveira Lima, a Brazilian diplomat, historian, and journalist, donated his extensive collection to the University.  An avid book collector, Oliveira Lima and his wife, Flora de Oliveira Lima, built a library with 40,000 items that tell the history of Brazil.

Now numbering 60,000 items that include books, manuscripts, pamphlets, maps, photographs, and works of art, the library contains important and rare sources that scholars can use to study the history and culture of Brazil and of Portuguese expansion globally.

“We’re very, very proud and privileged to be the home of this priceless and unique collection and to have stewarded it for 100 years now,” said Peter Kilpatrick, president of The Catholic University. Looking forward as well as back, President Kilpatrick also emphasized the work the library staff is doing to digitize the entire collection, noting that they have made one million pages available to the public since opening its digital portal in May 2022.

Her Excellency Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, ambassador of Brazil to the United States, also addressed the gathering, noting the tremendous sense of pride that the library brings to Brazil and thanking the University for hosting the collection, which advances the study of the Brazilian people and culture.

During the ceremony, Livia Lopes, director of the Oliveira Lima Library and the Institute for Latin American and Iberian Studies , also made remarks, and Provost Aaron Dominguez and de Mello presented medals to Mr. J. Raphael Della Ratta and Mr. Henry Widener to recognize their outstanding contributions to the library. Della Ratta has been an advocate of the library, donating funds to help support it, and Widener helped transform it when he was its librarian from 2019 to 2022.

Catholic University students contributed to the festive atmosphere of the event, performing a selection of Brazilian sonatas, serenades and other musical compositions. The performers included orchestral conductor and violinist Mr. Daniel Rodriges Lima, Ms. Grace Yun Kang (violin), Ms. Faith Foster (viola), and Ms. Chiara Pappalardo (cello).