The Holy See's work in publishing is tied to the founding of the Vatican Printing House on April 27th, 1587 under Pope Sixtus V. The creation of the L.E.V. was part of an effort to modernize the structure of the Vatican during the Pontificate of Pius XI. In 1926, the sales office was separated from the printing house to form a new and autonomous body in charge of selling books printed by the Holy See. The Libreria eventually became the Libreria Editrice and today the L.E.V. is recognized as the official publishing house of the Holy See with its own statute, approved in 1991 by the Secretary of State.
With the election of John Paul II in 1978 came important progress for the L.E.V. At the beginning of his Pontificate, the L.E.V. was put in charge of managing not only the texts of the Magistrate and the Holy See but also the writings of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla whose works were little known outside of Poland. In just a few years, the L.E.V. found itself with requests from all around the world asking for permission to publish Cardinal Wojtyla's works as well as those of John Paul II.
Another important progress came from the Decree of the Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, on May 31th, 2005 which confirmed and made official the entrusting of all author's rights for the Holy Father's texts to the L.E.V. Along with the rights to Cardinal Wojtyla's works, the L.E.V. was also given those to the works of Cardinal Ratzinger.