'My Kind of Library'
By Fr. John Larson, MIC (Jul 26, 2011)
I'm sitting at a carrel in a library. A carrel is one of those little three-sided desks that give you some privacy. This library is not your typical library, however. It is a world-record holder. The Marian Library in Dayton, Ohio, has the largest and most comprehensive collection of printed materials concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary in the world. The library also desires to promote proper devotion to Our Lady and has its own academic institute called the International Marian Research Institute (IMRI). Father Donald Calloway, MIC, graduated from here with a S.T.L. and I am currently taking two classes at the Institute. Pontifical degrees are awarded through the Marianum in Rome, a university dedicated to Mariological studies.
Now, I must clarify that the Marian Library is not run by the Marians but by a community we are often confused with: the Marianists. Here are a few ways to distinguish the communities:
The Marians were founded in Poland in 1673 by Bl. Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary Papczynski. The Marianists were founded in France in 1817 by Bl. William Joseph Chaminade. The Marians' initials are M.I.C. while the Marianist's are S.M. The Marianists administer the University of Dayton, of which the Marian Library is part, while the Marians administer the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.
The Marian Library is an amazing collection that spans the centuries. It includes rare ancient books on Our Lady and the most recent publications. It has an incredible collection of periodicals and journals dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. You may not realize it, but our quarterly publication Marian Helper magazine is one of the last magazines in the United States with a title referring to Our Lady. There are not many left. At one time, however, in the mid-20th century, there were many, perhaps more than 25, and the Marian Library has them.
There are more than 63,000 clippings from newspapers and magazines also, and a collection of statues and other art depicting Our Lady, along with audio and video collections. It's a particularly special library.
Now, I love this place, and mainly because this is Our Lady's library. She is honored here and she in turn passes all the glory to God. Jesus is also very much honored here, because Mary's whole life is dedicated to her Son. The Church is also honored here, because Mary is Mother of the Church.
I would say that classes emphasize all three: Jesus, Mary, and the Church. This is what the Marian Library focuses on. The three are inseparable.
I'm currently in the reading room, which has a number of reference books, but down the hall are the stacks. There is where the gigantic collection is. A staff member can give you a tour of it.
What can you learn about Our Lady here? What do you want to learn? There is, of course, much doctrinal material. But also there is plenty of information on popular devotions (there is a huge pamphlet collection) and information on apparitions, shrines, and churches dedicated to Our Lady. There are many biographies of saints who wrote of Our Lady and who were devoted to her, testimonies to her intercession, and accounts of miracles. There are many works in Latin that have never been translated, and many works in other languages, particularly French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Many of these also have never been translated. But don't worry, you could never read all the books in English if you tried.
The Marian Library is not just a place to study but a place to visit. They give tours (but it is best to call ahead if you want one). Of course, if you have something to research, they will help with it. Entering the University of Dayton via an entrance that points out visitor parking, one can get a free parking pass from the person at the entrance to the visitor parking area and ask him or her where the Marian Library is. The person will direct one to the Roesch Library building, which, on the 7th floor, houses the Marian Library.
I will finish this article by quoting something from St. Alphonsus de Liguori's The Glories of Mary, which is worth repeating:
Oh! how many of the proud have found humility through devotion to Mary; how many of the violent, meekness; how many blind, the light; how many despairing, confidence; how many lost, salvation! And precisely this she herself predicted when she pronounced in the house of Elizabeth that sublime canticle: "Behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed" (Luke 1:48). Which words St. Bernard repeats, and says: All nations will call thee blessed, for to all nations thou hast given life and glory; in thee sinners find pardon, and the just find perseverance in divine grace. Whence the devout Lanspergius represents the Lord thus speaking to the world: Venerate my mother with especial veneration.
Father John Larson, MIC, serves as the Marians' postulant director in Steubenville, Ohio.