The library of the Badia di Cava had to be built right from the beginning of the monastery (11th century) due to the need to provide books to the monks, as required by the Rule of St. Benedict. In addition to the Library as a place of conservation, in Cava there was also a Scriptorium, in which books necessary for the formation of the monks of Cava and the numerous dependent monasteries were written: proof of this are the codes n. 9 (XII century) Expositio in I Librum Regum until a few years ago considered to be of St. Gregory the Great and now attributed to the monk Pietro di Cava, n. 18 (13th century) De septem sigilis, n. 19 (13th century) Kalendarium, Evangelia, Apocalypsis, Epistle I Ioannis, Regula S. Benedicti.
The increase of the library in the century XIV can be seen from information concerning a Bible and the Speculum historiale of Vincent of Beauvais, as well as purchases for writing material and book bindings, which unfortunately have not reached us. The hypothesis put forward by Leone Mattei Cerasoli remains valid that the dispersion of the books collected in the first centuries occurred in the era of the commendam (1431-1497) or for the love of the books of some cardinal commendatory or for the precarious situation that led to believe that the so many books were needed for the modest number of surviving monks.
On the contrary, the monks of S. Giustina (on many incunabula the purchase made in Venice for Cava is noted), the abbot D. Vittorino Manso (first thought of separating the printed books from the manuscripts and, to safeguard the integrity of the library, in 1595 he obtained from Pope Clement VIII a bull that prohibited the removal of books from the library with the threat of excommunication), Abbot D. Filippo De Pace (his name is found in thousands of volumes). Serious damage was caused to the library on Christmas Eve 1796, when a mass of earth and stones poured out of the overlying Body of Cava, which "totally ruined" the library, as a news report states: many were certainly lost in the disaster. books and also some manuscripts.
In the nineteenth century on the library of the Benedictine monks not natural elements were unleashed, but the storms of governments: the suppressions of religious orders hit the abbey in 1807 by the king of Naples Giuseppe Bonaparte and in 1866 by the Savoy king Vittorio Emanuele II. In both cases the abbot was left responsible, in 1807 as director of the establishment and in 1867 (under a new law) as conservator of the National Monument, while some monks remained there as custodians.
This juridical physiognomy has remained unchanged until today. The monks, for their part, have continued to do their utmost to manage with the same care adopted in the conservation and increase of the book heritage before the Italian state made it its own.
As in the past, the increase has privileged and privileges the disciplines most suited to a monastic library: patristics, theology, law and history. Library donations were accepted taking into account the nature of the funds and the availability of premises. The most conspicuous collections are the following: Giovanni Abignente (1956), Giovanni Bassanelli (1982), Amalia Santoli (1992).
The library has 65 parchment codices, about 100 paper manuscripts, 120 incunabula, over 5000 editions of the secc. XVI-XVIII. Overall, the printed works are about 80,000.
Among the most famous codices are: the Visigothic Bible of the century. IX, the Codex legum Langobardorum of the century. XI, the Etymologiae of Isidoro of the century. VIII, the De Temporibus of Beda of the century. XI, the De septem Sigillis by Benedetto da Bari of the century. XII.