Skip to main content


‘Like Pokemon Go! ... but for Marys on Campus’

By Maureen Schlangen, E-scholarship and communications manager

At the University of Dayton, images of the Blessed Virgin Mary are so prevalent that international studies major Samantha Mayne of Roma, Texas, once told religious studies professor Neomi DeAnda, “There should be an app like Pokemon Go! … but for Marys on campus.”

So was born “Mary of the Americas,” an interactive, intercultural exhibit featuring more than 75 images of the Blessed Mother in a variety of media from North and South America, fully available online using a website, device-scannable codes or an app developed by a team of UD engineering students.

With the assistance of staff from the Marian Library, DeAnda and the students in her Latina/Latino Religious Experience Course (REL 322) curated the exhibit, selecting works, researching the artists, describing the works and writing reflections. Meanwhile, DeAnda worked with students in Ralph Barrera’s Multidisciplinary Design II course to develop the app, called Benchmark, for mobile devices.

The app and instructions are now available for download on the exhibit website, which is also open for browsing at

In September, when the exhibit’s works and/or QR codes are installed across campus, visitors can access the supplemental information as they encounter them. Those not using Benchmark can choose several options:

  1. Scan the QR codes with a mobile device’s QR reader (download instructions below); each code leads to a URL with an artwork’s information.
  2. Download and print a sheet of the QR codes.
  3. Browse the works on the website.

Benchmark requires a little more tech savvy than simply downloading a QR reader, DeAnda says, but it’s worth it for those with an interest in the technology.

“The Virgin Mary has been portrayed through thousands of artistic and cultural lenses throughout history, drawing from the religious fabric of a region all the way down to the personal spiritual experience of the person creating the art,” DeAnda says. “For the consumer of the art, all those same factors come into play in how they experience the work — their culture, their emotional experiences and their spiritual foundation. We hope this online tool helps people to engage Mary from these varied perspectives.”

The cross-disciplinary project encouraged students to see their fields of study in a different light or to see unexpected applications for their expertise, she says.

“For the students who worked on this project, whether they were conducting archival research about the various titles of Mary in religious studies class or creating an app in their engineering class, it seems like it has been a very rich learning experience,” DeAnda says.

Download a QR Code Reader

Click on the appropriate application store for your mobile device and search for “QR code reader.” Many free options will appear.

• Google Play Store
• Apple App Store
• Android App Store

APP Designers 
Computer engineering major Andrew Frey and electrical engineering majors Almuaayad AlMaskari and Hassan Alnasser designed the Benchmark app.
Previous Post

The Prints of Benjamin Miller

The Marian Library is featuring a progressive exhibit of woodcuts that we hope will bring you back to see more.
Read More
Next Post

Mary in the News: May 2, 2018

Read recent items about Mary in both Catholic and secular news. Also, see International Marian Research Institute news and updates.
Read More