Transnational Access: KU Leuven


Within the context of ReIReS the KU Leuven partner in the project (Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, in cooperation with the KADOC and the University library) is offering scholarships in the field of history, Church history, historical theology and religious history in general.

KU Leuven Logo


Within the KU Leuven context, a rich diversity of collections are at the disposal of researchers, including manuscripts, precious books, archival material, huge book collections (the Maurits Sabbe Library, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies consists of 1.4 million books) and unique collections of various documents (cf. KADOC, the centre that preserves archival material of Christian social organizations, religious orders and congregations, politicians …).


  • Maurits Sabbe Library, Faculty of Theology and Relgious Studies, KU Leuven

This library is one of the leading theological libraries in the world. It is a library that consists of  manuscripts (from the 8th century onwards), incunabula, post-incunabula, precious books and the like. It is a library where all Western cultures meet each other (Leuven being on the crossroads of different cultures does search actively for all academic material, published in languages such as English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish).

The library contains the libraries of many religious orders and congregations: it functions as a kind of commemorating legacy of the intellectual history of Roman Catholicism in Belgium and the Netherlands. Indeed, the library not only preserves the belongings of most leading orders and congregations in Belgium but also the large libraries of the Dutch Jesuits and Capuchins.

Moreover, intense research is done with regard to specific orders and congregations: in combination with the work done in the KADOC, the material available is of utmost importance for future researchers in the field. All interested, must take a look into


In both cases, researchers have a lot of material at their disposal. Moreover, in the two centres one gets entrance to a fascinating but not always uniform world. Indeed, both centres offer a good survey of the history of these orders from their very beginning up to today. Both orders did play an important role in the history of the Low Countries and all applicants working on the religious history from the 16th to the 21th centuries can make use of the files available.

The library is not only a unique lab for all interested in religious history, it is also a vibrant meeting place for many students coming from all over the world.


Because of its rich collection and thanks to the support by the University, the Flemish Community and private sponsoring, the Faculty was able to create a Book Heritage Lab.

This lab not only restores precious manuscripts, but also does research with regard to manuscripts, book bindings, provenances and the like. The lab has developed intense collaboration with civil engineers, medical doctors, specialized labs. The Book Heritage Lab offers ample opportunities to researchers to participate in workshops, seminars, colloquia etc.


  • The Center for the Study of the Second Vatican Council

The Center for the Study of the Second Vatican Council consists of the conciliar documents of Belgian bishops and theologians, participating in the Council. The adjective Belgian refers both to those bishops and theologians being active in the country and the bishops and theologians who served the Church as missionaries.

For a detailed survey of the material available at the Centre, see

To get an idea of the rich material available at the Centre, one should consult the detailed inventories of the papers Philips: DECLERCK, L. – VERSCHOOTEN, W., Inventaire des papiers conciliaires de Monseigneur Gérard Philips, secrétaire adjoint de la commission doctrinale (Instrumenta Theologica, 24), Leuven, 2001.

Also the papers Willebrands, preserved in the Centre, are an important instrument for all those who are involved in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue:  DECLERCK, L., Inventaire des archives personnelles du Cardinal J. Willebrands, Secrétaire (1960-1969) et Président (1969-1989) du Secrétariat pour l’unité des chrétiens, Archevêque d’Utrecht (1975-1983) (Instrumenta Theologica, 35), Leuven, 2013.

  • Index Religiosus

Since 2013, the bibliographies of ETL and RHE merged to one “European” bibliography available online (within either Brepolis or KU Leuven). This bibliography aims at doing justice to research as done in Europe. In this regard, attention is paid to publications in French, Spanish, Italian, German (quite evidently next to publications in English).

In the DHGE-encyclopedia, innerly related to this bibliography, young researchers will be given the opportunity to write lemmata on topics of interest for their research. Under the guidance of the editorial board, they will be introduced in writing in a concise way about results of their research.

For both instruments, see



The KADOC, Documentation and Research Centre on Religion, Culture and Society, started as a Centre, preserving the archival material of religious orders and communities in Flanders. Gradually, the Christian social organizations gave their material to the KADOC. In the beginning of the third millennium, the centre broadened its scope, thus welcoming archives with a protestant and Muslim background. The centre can be considered as the expertise lab for all that has to do with religious history in Flanders since the French Revolution.

The KADOC not only has a long standing tradition with regard to preservation. It also offers excellent facilities for researchers, working on the history of Belgian Catholicism in the 19th and 20th centuries.

For a detailed survey, see

The expertise as available in the library, the centers and the KADOC, is at the disposal of interested researchers. In this regard, it is good to mention that the interaction between these centres offers many multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches. Furthermore, all institutions involved have developed over the years international networks of which the potential researches can benefit.


Prof. Dr. Mathijs Lamberigts