Among the libraries of the high medieval period belonging to monasteries and bishops exclusively reserved for Franciscan monks’s use, the library of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Monteprandone is of great importance, not only for the quality but also for the variety of books. It was collected by San Giacomo della Marca (1393-1476) thanks to the support and help of enlightened protectors such as Nicolas V, cardinal Domenico Capranica and the Lords Montefeltro, Malatesta and Sforza.
San Giacomo della Marca was born in Monteprandone in 1393 and during his life he was a preacher and a diplomat. In his hometown, within the library of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie he gathered his codexes, indexed them and chose the ones which could be more useful for him and for his brother monks. All manuscripts date back to the 14th and 15th century, except for one dated 9th- 10th century. Sometimes they’re embellished by miniatures and decorations and another typical feature is their format, which is small, as they had to be studied and transported.
After his death the library continued to expand and consisted of 700- 800 books. Nevertheless, due to the lack of consideration and interest in taking back the borrowed books, many of them were stolen.
The surviving indexes were in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in the chapel dedicated to the Saint, together with the corpses of St. Giacomo and St. Giovanni da Capestrano. They were inside a box placed in a sideboard whose keys were safeguarded by the father guardian and by the interim magistrate of Monteprandone.
At present the Civic museum and Library of San Giacomo della Marca in Monteprandone houses 61 codexes belonging to St. Giacomo and also his letter to St. Giovanni da Capestrano which was written in Rome on December 14th1455.
The codexes are the main historical collection of books in the Civic Museum- Library of St. Giacomo della Marca in Monteprandone, and they can also be found in other libraries, such as the National library in Naples and the Franciscan and Picene library “San Giacomo della Marca” in Falconara Marittima.
Due to their good conditions and to the presence of historical notes and inventory, the library is one of the most important Franciscan collections of 15th century books.
It consists mainly of five types of books: classical books, used for preaching and Latin lessons; the books about The Church Fathers, especially Jerome and Augustine; the largest section is made up of books by school writers most of whom were Franciscan; at last a group of books about law and grammar books.