The scientific activity of the Custody revolves around the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, known in the whole world of Biblical and archaeological culture. The SBF is dedicated to numerous research activities in Biblical archaeology and literary sources. Research on Biblical texts is conducted from various points of view: historical, exegetic, theological, linguistic and environmental. The Institute holds refresher courses, conferences and training courses for Holy Land guides and campaigns of archaeological digs.
Another important institute is the Muski, or the Centre for Oriental Studies of Cairo, which concentrates its studies and research on the Christian communities of the Middle East. The main activity of the Muski is publications, which represent invaluable documentation for Christianity in the Middle East. The centre has a library unique of its kind: more than thirty thousand volumes and a good collection of Oriental manuscripts in Arabic, Syriac, Coptic. Armenian, Turkish and Persian.
The Studium Theologicum Jerosolymitanum is linked with the SBF as the first cycle of theology, based at the convent of St. Saviour, aimed mainly at training candidates for the priesthood.
The Franciscans of the Holy Land have lovingly looked after and preserved the sanctuaries and restored them.
In particular, the restoration work has taken on great importance. Recording all the original elements of the sanctuaries has led to an archaeological exploration which – by redrawing the environment that witnessed and characterized the action of Biblical figures – creates a sensation of the present and enthrals with the emotion of a direct experience.
The archaeological activity of the Franciscans in the Holy Land started at the end of the 19th century when, thanks also to the stimulus of several archaeological explorations started in Palestine in that period, the need for more scientific knowledge of the sanctuaries and of the holy placed becomes complementary to that of looking after them and venerating them.
The Custody’s excavations have obviously given preference to places linked with the New Testament, but those concerning places of the Old Testament are not rare.
Over the past century, this activity of the Custody has created an enormous heritage of material finds and enriched knowledge of the Holy Land.