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Headshots (left to right) Janzen, Sarto, Groppe

Announcing 2024 Marian Fellows

By Kayla Harris

The Marian Fellowships are a collaborative endeavor from the Marian Library and the International Marian Research Institute (IMRI) to support research and artistic creation using the Marian Library’s collections and the expertise of IMRI scholars. 


Rebecca Janzen, an associate professor in the languages, literatures and cultures department at the University of South Carolina, is the recipient of the 2024 visiting scholar fellowship. Janzen will conduct research for her book Mining Religion: Marian Shrines and Extraction Across the Americas

“This project posits that Marian devotion at shrines near mines offers a form of labor protection as well as a space for grief and celebration,” she wrote in her application. “To make this argument, Mining Religion analyzes photographs, religious objects and records of lay religious associations from Marian shrines and compares them with archival materials from mining operations at the same sites.”

Janzen, who has a doctorate in Spanish from the University of Toronto, also addressed Marian devotion in her 2013 dissertation, “Collective Bodies and Collective Change: Blindness, Pilgrimage, Motherhood and Miracles in Twentieth Century Mexican Literature.”


Giovanna Sarto, a doctoral candidate in religious studies at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora in Brazil, is the recipient of a new fellowship for master’s or doctoral students. Sarto’s research project, “The Liberating Potential of Devotion to the Black Virgins in Latin American Mariological Tradition: A Feminist Contribution,” will make use of the Marian Library’s artwork, printed material and artifacts connected to Our Lady of Aparecida, queen and patron saint of Brazil and “one of more than 2,000 names by which Mary is claimed,” Sarto said. 

In her proposal, Sarto noted the value of accessing the Marian Library’s diverse collections and the expertise of IMRI faculty: “Access to the Marian Library’s collection may allow my research to highlight a recent historical-sociological foundation for situating the specific symbol of Our Lady of Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil, in the broader field of representations of Black Virgins, investigating issues of gender and sexuality of and for liberation.”


Elizabeth Groppe, a professor in the religious studies department at the University of Dayton, is the recipient of the 2024 resident scholar fellowship. Groppe will be exploring the history and contemporary significance of the Mary’s Gardens movement in U.S. Catholicism using the John Stokes and Mary’s Gardens archival collection.

Donated in 2013, the John Stokes and Mary’s Gardens collection has attracted researchers from around the world to learn about the history and revival of Mary Gardens—those that feature plants and flowers with Marian or religious names in addition to botanical and common names.

“In the same period in which [Stokes] promoted Mary’s Gardens, he was also very active in the civil rights movement, social justice organizations and ecumenical and interfaith work,” Groppe said. "My research will be attentive to the character of Mary's Gardens as sacramentals and also to possible interrelationships between these commitments and the Mary’s Gardens movement and the implications of whatever interrelationships may be evident for consideration of Stokes’ contribution to a distinctly Catholic-inspired ecological vision.” 


The application for the 2025 summer fellowships will open in October. More information about the fellowships, including reflections from previous recipients, is available on the Marian Library website.

Kayla Harris is an associate professor and director of the Marian Library.

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