Zaragoza Manuscripts

Soaked in intrigue- Stolen by Priests

The Cathedral of the Savior (Catedral del Salvador or La Seo de Zaragoza) is located in Zaragoza, Aragon1, Spain. It is popularly called “Seo.”

Between 1960 and 1965, a series of robberies occurred in the Seo library. Some 583 books, codices, incunabula and manuscripts disappeared. The main cause was the laziness with which the library had been treated since the middle of the 19th century which considerably facilitated the work of thieves such as Enzo Ferrajoli de Ry, an Italian born in Naples in 1913, with many connections within the Franco regime. These items ended up in various places, such as the British Museum and Yale University or auctioned by Sotheby’s, who refused to return them, arguing that they had bought them " in good faith, by customary procedures and from trusted persons ."2

Yale discovers stolen manuscripts

In 1964 Yale University discovered that eight rare Greek manuscripts stolen from the library of Zaragoza Cathedral were among the literary treasures in the Ziskind Collection of Greek Manuscripts3 at the Beinecke Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts at New Haven.

The manuscripts were traced by Francisco Rodriguez Adrados, professor of Greek philology at Madrid University, a few weeks after the conviction of four men accused of the theft in Zaragoza.4

The professor said a collection of priceless books, dated from the beginning of printing and stolen at the same time as the manuscripts, was in the British Museum in London.

Herman W. Liebert, the Beinecke's librarian, said in a telephone interview that the university acquired them in 1957 “in good faith from a highly respected American dealer.” The dealer who sold them to Yale explained that the dealer from whom he bought them (Enzo Ferrajoli de Ry) was a scapegoat. 5


The dealer who sold the books to Yale had bought them from a dealer who had bought them from individuals including priests who had sold the items saying they were trying to raise funds for repair of the church. All wee convicted.

This has been called a case cloaked in suggestio falsi.6

{And btw: Enzo Ferrajoli de Ry likely forged the Vinland Map.}


Aragon is an autonomous region in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon in northeastern Spain. There are three provinces: Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. The capital of Aragon is Zaragoza.


Fernández Clemente, Eloy “The disappearance of the incunabula of La Seo.” Andalan Magazine (Zaragoza, 1985).


Bernard,H. W. L., and M. W. Knox. “THE ZISKIND COLLECTION OF GREEK MANUSCRIPTS.” The Yale University Library Gazette. 32, No. 2 (October 1957), pp. 39-56.


8 Manuscripts, Stolen in Spain, Turn Up at Yale After 20 Years. New York Times Nov. 6, 1964.


DEALER DEFENDS RARE YALE MSS.: Says They Were Not Stolen, but Sold by Churchmen. New York Times. Nov, 7, 1964.


Hayward, John ( 1965). “Commentary.” The Book Collector (spring): 7-9.