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Marian Library exhibit explores Catholic tourism

The University of Dayton Marian Library gallery will reopen to the public with a free exhibit on religious tourism featuring pieces from Catholic shrines and festivals — from handcrafted devotional objects to quirky souvenirs.

“Catholic sites draw millions of visitors every year, from casual tourists to pilgrims on spiritual journeys,” said curator Kayla Harris. “Obviously with the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism stopped and many Marian and Catholic sacred places closed to visitors. This exhibit gives everyone the opportunity to ‘travel’ to these sites and discover the unique customs and traditions that can be found there.”

The Journeys of Faith: Shrines, Souvenirs and Catholic Tourism exhibit, which draws from the collections of the Marian Library and the U.S. Catholic Special Collection, explores the motivations for Catholic travel, what visitors do at these sites, and the souvenirs they bring back.

Items on display include holy water from the Sanctuary Our Lady of Lourdes (France), a place where pilgrims seek medical miracles; an 18th-century shrine souvenir print and the woodblock from the shrine of Our Lady of Good Encounter in France, where a statue of the Virgin Mary was removed but miraculously reappeared the next day; quirky souvenirs, such as glow-in-the-dark statues, decorative fans, candles and a car ornament; and other prints and devotional objects.

Visitors also will get to flip through a “scrapbook” featuring postcards and photographs from Marian shrines and take home their own souvenir, such as coloring pages and deaccessioned items from the collections such as holy cards or postcards.

The exhibit is open Aug. 17 to Jan. 31 in the Marian Library gallery on the seventh floor of Roesch Library. More information, including hours and parking, is available online.


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