Recognized as the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of printed materials on Mary, the Marian Library aims to further study and research and to promote well-founded devotion to Mary. The library comprises a Marian collection--theological treatises, books on shrines, sermon collections, anthologies of Marian poetry and other works --and a complementary reference collection in scripture, patristics, systematic and spiritual theology, history, religious art and general bibliography.

Established in 1943 by the Marianists at the University of Dayton, the Marian Library now holds:

over 100,000 books and pamphlets in some 50 languages, ranging from the invention of printing in the 15th century to the present

more than 63,000 clippings from newspapers and magazines

nearly 100,000 cards depicting Mary in the art of all ages and numerous Marian shrines. (i.e., if we count the postcards, Christmas cards, holy cards, and prints of various sizes).

The Marian Library's collection of non-print media includes:

attractive collections of statues from around the world, Marian postage stamps, recordings of Marian music, Marian medals, and Rosaries.

more than 10,000 slides on Marian art, especially from the 20th century, and numerous video and audio cassettes (available for loan) on Marian themes and related topics.

The Marian Library is:

a clearinghouse for information on Marian devotion

a resource for theological research and support of graduate programs in theology

accessible online for most resources

the headquarters of the Mariological Society of America.

the site of an art gallery devoted to contemporary religious art, especially Marian art, and a museum focused on the display of Nativity scenes from the Crèches Collection of the Marian Library (numbering over 900 crèches).


The Early Years-People and Projects

In the summer of 1943, Fr. John A. Elbert, S.M., president of the University, considered and discussed an appropriate way to commemorate the upcoming triple centenary: the coming of the Marianists to the United States (1849), the founding of the University of Dayton (1850), and the death of the founder, Father William Joseph Chaminade (1850).

Rather than erect an inert monument, he wished to establish something that would be living and active, a contribution to the mission both of the University of Dayton and the Society of Mary. He concluded that a library, devoted explicitly to gathering literature on the Mother of Jesus, would be an appropriate and useful way to mark these anniversaries. By establishing the library in 1943, he hoped that it would be fully functioning and useful by 1949.

As first director of the library, Fr. Elbert appointed Fr. Lawrence Monheim, S.M. (1905-1985), at the time chairman of the University's Religion Department. With verve and enthusiasm, Fr. Monheim launched the project and quickly made it widely known. On September 23, 1943, he sent out a hectographed letter to all publishers of Catholic books announcing the founding of The Marian Library; he requested a "list of all the books you published under the title of Mary" as well as "any suggestions that you in your experience with books would be able to give." On October 15, 1943, another letter was sent to some 260 librarians in Catholic colleges and seminaries, requesting information about their Marian holdings and the donation of duplicate copies. Then, on October 20, 1943, Fr. Elbert formally opened The Marian Library by presenting as the library's first book his own work, Devotion to Mary in the Twentieth Century.

Fr. Monheim labored energetically and effectively. He had to find space and helpers, make contacts, obtain books, and, of course, locate or generate somehow the necessary funds. (As a starter, Fr. Elbert persuaded the University treasurer, Bro. William Dapper, to make available the unused funds from the budget of the student literary publication, Tbe Exponent. Albert Emanuel Library offered the use of a room which had formerly been used for the law school collection.)

Congratulatory letters arrived together with many suggestions. Fr. Colman Farrell, O.S.B., of St. Benedict's College (Atchison, KS) offered many suggestions for the new library, all of which were eventually acted upon. He proposed, for example, that there be a union catalog of the Marian literature to be found in all the libraries of North America. This catalog proved to be one of The Marian Library's most ambitious and widely appreciated endeavors.

In February of 1944, only a few months after the founding of the library, Father Monheim was suddenly transferred to Philadelphia. Through almost weekly correspondence with Brother Stanley Mathews, S.M., one of the "student-Marianist volunteers," he managed to keep in touch with the work being done. In April, Monheim received a letter from Elbert announcing the appointment of Fr. Edmund Baumeister, S.M., as his successor. In this letter Elbert outlined several objectives that he would present for the new director's consideration. He suggested that the library develop a complete periodical section including current and past issues. To ensure more effective publicity, he advised that there be "a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter dealing with The Marian Library, listing its acquisitions, reviewing Marian books, featuring the work, keeping the interest alive, etc." He recommended that the library be used in connection with the university's graduate research program. (Fr. Baumeister was and would remain dean of the graduate school until he left the university in 1949). "No doubt you had all of these ideas yourself," Fr. Elbert wrote to Fr. Monheim, "but since your untimely departure we have had to start again from scratch to reconstruct a new plan which is not yet under way. Any suggestions you may have will be welcomed by Fr. Baumeister or by me. The work must not die."

The work did not die. The first library project was the compilation of a complete Marian bibliography, coordinated by Fr. Baumeister who was gifted with organizational skills and tenacity. Eighty percent of the books listed in bibliographies on Marian topics were out-of-print, and there was no source giving the location of the extant copies. The project intended to find out how many books were still in existence and where they were located. Librarians were requested to send lists (authors and titles) of all the Marian books in their collections (Catholic University, Notre Dame, and Harvard were among the libraries responding to this request). Then, using these lists, volunteers (known variously as "field- workers" or "branch-directors") checked to see whether these books were available at hundreds of public and private libraries throughout the country. The enthusiastic response to these requests was encouraging. Catholic colleges and many women religious generously cooperated. (The School Sisters of Notre Dame, under the leadership of Sister M. Gerard Majella, S.S.N.D., sent in record cards for 116 different libraries in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.)

In April 1945, Father Baumeister announced that "a milestone in the history of The Marian Library" had been reached with the publication of the first booklist of The Marian Library. This booklist consisted of 2,600 titles recorded during more than a year of searching in libraries throughout the United States. A supplement issued in December of that same year increased that number to 4,421. The booklist of 1949 brought the total number to 10,539.

A second project of those first five years was the vertical file. It was the result of a proposal made by Bro. Leo Murray, S.M., in August 1948, at a meeting of Marianists who wanted to help the library. He suggested that those interested send "clippings of interesting items from their diocesan papers and other publications." The "clippings file" has become an indispensable source for replying to the numerous queries which have come to The Marian Library over the years on questions related to Marian devotion. (It now contains over 55,000 items, and is largely the responsibility of a volunteer worker, Mrs. Mildred Sutton, who has worked on this project since 1959. A special, perhaps a unique, value of the file is that it reflects contemporary concerns and points of emphasis in questions of Marian teaching and devotion, particularly as these are expressed on a less sophisticated level.)

With the end of the war in Europe in 1945, the possibility arose of obtaining books from abroad. "The European book market is opening," reported Fr. Baumeister in February, 1947. During the past month well over four hundred books have come to The Marian Library from Paris. These books include some of the most modern publications as well as some that are quite old. In fact, the oldest book we now have is among them, a Portuguese book on the Rosary, printed in 1574. The exchange value of the American dollar at that time was high and inflation had not yet set in. The four hundred books referred to, for example, cost about $1,000. It was, as noted by Fr. Baumeister, "the opportunity of the century."

Several Marianists played a major role in building the library's store of books from Europe. Bro. Bernard Shad, S.M., appointed to the Marianists' General Administration (Rome) in 1946, always had a keen interest in The Marian Library, as did Fr. Emile Neubert, S.M., an internationally-known Mariologist in Fribourg, Switzerland, and Fr. Herbert Kramer, S.M., who resided at Bordeaux. European Marianists worked as purchasing agents: Brothers George Pialoux in Paris, Alfred Lonsing in Linz, Benito Moral in Madrid, and Clarence Saunders in Rome. On the suggestion of Fr. Francis Friedel, S.M., the 1946 General Chapter of the Society of Mary adopted the following statute: "All members of the Society of Mary, in all countries, are invited to join in the grand project of assembling a complete library of works in honor of Our Blessed Mother. Rare volumes and out-of-print books are eagerly requested."

Fr. Monheim's Second Term (1949-54)

In the summer of 1948, Fr. Elbert became the Provincial of the Cincinnati Province of the Society of Mary (a position he held until 1958). In the first appointments he made, Fr. Monheim was transferred from Trinity College in Sioux City, Iowa, and assigned once again to the University of Dayton, where he resumed the directorship of The Marian Library. Fr. Baumeister was transferred to teach at the Catholic University of Puerto Rico. The next five years saw an increase in activities through which the library, as an educative force, reached outward to promote sound Marian doctrine in a number of ways.

First, a publishing program was begun to help counteract the overly sentimental and theologically vacuous material that all too readily passed for Marian literature. Marian Reprints, begun in January, 1952, and continuing until 1967, published articles which had appeared elsewhere but were not ordinarily available to religious and laity. Within a few months, there were over 500 subscriptions to this publication. More than half the material consisted in translations, many from French spiritual writers. Until it ceased publication in 1967, the series issued 132 numbers. Eighteen of these were documents of Pope Pius XII, the one writer most frequently presented. Another eighteen came from Marianist writers, while Jesuit authors contributed fifteen and Dominicans thirteen. Some articles were originally talks given at the annual Marian Institute sponsored by the library. Topics treated reflect the great interest in the recently proclaimed dogma of the Assumption (1950) and the Marian Year (1954), marking the centenary of the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception. There were also many articles on Catholic Action and its Marian character and on the apostolic consequences of Marian devotion.

In addition, a second series of publications from this period, presenting longer and more scholarly works than the reprints, was known as Marian Library Studies (1952-1967). Among the lengthier articles published were Mary and the Mystical Body, an extract from the thesis of Fr. Thomas Stanley, S.M.; John J. Griffin's The Blessed Virgin and Social Reconstruction (with an introduction written by Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston); and Bro. William Fackovec's Lourdes Publications in French in the Clugnet Collection, an annotated bibliography of 19th and early 20th century material on Lourdes in The Marian Library (published in 1958, the Lourdes centenary year).

During his second term as director of the library, Fr. Monheim undertook several other projects to extend the library's influence, give it a more clearly identifiable profile, and increase its holdings. In January 1950, he spoke about The Marian Library at the first meeting of the Mariological Society of America. Three years later he began awarding The Marian Library Medal in recognition of an outstanding work in English dealing with aspects of Marian devotion. The first recipient was Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, honored for his work The World's First Love, which became the most widely read of the author's several books on Mary. In 1951, Fr. Monheim commissioned Xavier Hochenleitner of Oberammergau, Germany, for a wood carving to be known as Our Lady of The Marian Library. (The image appeared on the cover of all the issues of Marian Library Reprints.) There was much correspondence about starting an English-language edition of the successful French-Canadian periodical Marie. Finally, after three years of negotiations with the New York book dealer, H. P. Kraus, Monheim acquired the thousands of books and pamphlets on Marian shrines assembled by the French bibliographer, Leon Clugnet. Acquisition of these materials from sites of Marian devotion throughout Europe and South America, published from the mid-1500s through 1918, more than doubled the number of Marian Library holdings.

The Mathews-Hoelle Era

Bro. Stan Mathews, S.M., was associated with the library almost from its beginnings. As a Marianist scholastic, he assisted Fr. Monheim. He was a "field worker" recording the contents of libraries in northern Ohio, 1945-51. In 1952, he became the first full-time worker in The Marian Library, bringing a great interest in the work and a vision of the library's potential as a center of research. A testimony of his competence and interests are the two anthologies which he edited, The Promised Woman (1953) and Queen of the Universe (1957).

In 1954, Fr. Philip Hoelle, S.M., was appointed director, replacing Fr. Monheim, who was given a new assignment in Puerto Rico. Fr. Hoelle continued the projects already in place: the development of the book collection, the annual Marian Institutes, the awarding of The Marian Library Medal, and the search for larger quarters and benefactors. (In 1959, Bro. Mathews referred to the library's "minor miracle": "It has existed entirely on donations.")

A few months after being appointed director of the library, Fr. Hoelle also became editor of The Marianist, a popular periodical published by the Society of Mary. (The title was changed to Mary Today in 1964.) Fr. Hoelle was assisted by Bro. Stan Mathews as managing editor, and, for the next twelve years, the periodical was associated with The Marian Library. From a general miscellany of articles, the magazine was transformed into a work with a Marian focus, "a kind of Marian digest, with pictures, news, articles, commentary." Regular features included a one-page article on some Marian feast of the current month, a page of news from The Marian Library and reviews of Marian books. Theme issues, in which all the articles centered on a single topic, included three issues on Frank Duff's Legion of Mary, five special numbers on Mary's place in the ecumenical dialogue, and four devoted to Fr. Chaminade, founder of the Marianists, and the works he established. Individual articles were sometimes chosen for reprinting by Catholic Mind, Catholic Digest, and other publications.

One article that achieved worldwide fame and notoriety was Paul Hume's "Mother Dearest, Save Us," a severe but just criticism of the dreadful Marian hymns sung at Catholic services. On two occasions the Catholic Press Association gave The Marianist its award for general excellence in the class of devotional magazines. The citation for 1962 praises the "excellent content in clear, easy-to-read format" and the writing that "avoids saccharine verbosity and manages to sustain interest."

In its early years, the library was always in need of more space. The first permanent home for the collection was a single room in the university library vacated by the law school. In December, 1953, the glassed-in shelves of the adjoining seminar room were made available for the 6,000 volumes of the recently-acquired Clugnet Collection. A separate building for The Marian Library had been envisioned almost from the beginning. In 1959, the Cincinnati Province of the Society of Mary began a fundraising drive, part of which was directed toward constructing such a facility. Contributions came from families with members in the Society and also from the families of alumni and students in the schools conducted by the Province. Construction began early in 1964, and a year later the new building was ready, a spacious wing consisting of three main levels and a mezzanine attached to the south end of the Albert Emanuel Library, matching a similar wing added at the north end of the building.

As the new quarters for The Marian Library were nearing completion in 1964, Fr. Raymond A. Roesch, S.M., president of the University of Dayton, acknowledged that the achievements of The Marian Library were the results of the collective efforts and contributions of many individuals: "The Marian Library here on campus is celebrating its twenty-first birthday it, so to say, has reached its adulthood.... The Library was not born with a silver spoon in its mouth; it has no foundation giving it support. Nonetheless, it does have a multitude of friends, devotees of Mary, who give of their time and effort in order to make this pocket of knowledge of our Blessed Lady one that will be available to any country throughout the world."

On January 24, 1965, when this building was dedicated by Archbishop Karl J. Alter of Cincinnati, Fr. Hoelle announced that donors had been found for the establishment of a Marian Study Fund, which would make available scholarships for studies leading to a Master's degree in Marian theology and would also provide honoraria to enable the library to bring to the campus the world's outstanding Marian scholars. On that occasion, he received the University of Dayton's own Marianist Award, conferred by the Very Rev. Paul J. Hoffer, Superior-General of the Society of Mary. Fr. Hoelle's response summarized his view of the special role which the library occupied: "This special research facility enables the University of Dayton to give a loving service of head and heart and hand in helping to fulfill Mary's words "All generations shall call me blessed ... for the Almighty has done great things for me."

Vatican II and Its Aftermath

In the last months of 1964, as preparations were being made for the move to the new quarters of The Marian Library, events were occurring at Vatican Council II which would profoundly affect the library's future. The popularity and the enthusiastic reception which The Marian Library enjoyed during its early years was in part attributable to the flourishing Marian movement of the 1950s. The decade had opened with the proclamation of the dogma of the Assumption (1950); then followed the first Marian Year (1953-54), the establishment of the feast of Mary's Queenship (1954), the Lourdes Year (1958). Marian novena services Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the Miraculous Medal enjoyed enormous popularity. May processions and Rosary rallies were part of Catholic life. In the United States, the Cold War of the 1950s was reinforced by Our Lady of Fatima's request for prayer for the conversion of Russia.

In 1965, Vatican II's much-debated chapter on the Blessed Virgin in the Constitution of the Church claims to have introduced significant new emphases in Marian devotion. The Virgin Mary was seen as being part of the Church, its most eminent member, its model and mother. She was also seen as part of the history of God's People, prefigured in the Hebrew Scriptures, presented in the Gospels as the mother of Jesus and as the model of Christian discipleship. Rather than a privileged but isolated person, the Virgin Mary was now seen as the first and preeminent example of the transformation God's grace could accomplish. A warm and fervent Marian devotion was recommended.

Many interpreted the failure of Vatican II to mention the Rosary, apparitions, and other cherished Marian devotions as part of an "anti-Marian" program. Others wondered how Vatican II's new orientations, Scriptural, ecumenical, liturgical, would influence Marian devotion. As a result, in the words of Cardinal Suenens, a "great silence" concerning Mary descended on the Church in the late 1960s. (Fortunately, help in charting these orientations was given by the American bishops in their pastoral letter Behold Your Mother [1973], and by Pope Paul VI, in the Apostolic Letter, Marialis cultus [1974]). Yet many bishops and priests down-played Marian devotion. It was discouraged in many seminaries.

The changes in Marian devotion were immediately felt in The Marian Library. As the new quarters for the library were being dedicated in 1965, some wondered whether a Marian library was still necessary, "whether it would impede ecumenical dialogue?" This discussion of the role of The Marian Library, which coincided with a change of library administration in the mid 1960s, resulted in some dislocation. Its previous activities were reconsidered in the light of Vatican II's directives. During this period, the annual summer institutes and the conferral of the Marian Library Medal were suspended; Mary Today, Marian Library Reprints, and Marian Studies ceased publication. Contributing to the feeling of instability was the University of Dayton's request in 1969 that The Marian Library move from its separate wing of the Albert Emanuel Library to the seventh floor of the newly constructed university library (later to be named the Roesch Library).

The new direction was given by Fr. Robert Maloy, S.M., recently returned from doctoral studies in Europe, who became the library's acting director in 1967. Under his direction, the library's purpose and role was clarified. "The Marian Library should take on ever more and more the character of a research institute. ... The Marian Library's responsibility is primarily academic, and this is in keeping with the sophistication of its collection and its position within a university community. It was felt that the best contribution to the pastoral mission of the Church would be its dedication to intellectual matters." The implementation of this new program was confided to Fr. Theodore Koehler, S.M., a French Marianist, who became the library's director in October, 1969.

Fr. Koehler was well qualified both to develop the growth of the library's collection and to direct its institutes along the lines suggested by Fr. Maloy. He was a theologian conversant with patristic and medieval texts and a longtime contributing member of the French Mariological Society (whose influence is discernible in the documents of Vatican II). He replaced the former publication, Marian Library Reprints, with Marian Library Studies (New Series). This revised publication was not to be a "reprint service," but rather a journal containing "original studies in historical bibliography" related to the development of Marian doctrine and devotion; this new publication was to foster "the renewal and development of Marian studies through integration into other fields of research."

A second project inaugurated by Fr. Koehler was the extension of the annual summer institute into a six-week program of courses on Marian studies. A stimulus for this development was Paul VI's 1974 apostolic letter Marialis cultus which proposed a comprehensive approach to Marian studies, one which included attention to the biblical, liturgical, ecumenical and anthropological dimensions. The program was officially designated the International Marian Research Institute (IMRI). In response to Fr. Koehler's request, the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education issued, in 1975, a decree temporarily joining the IMRI faculty to the Pontifical Theological Faculty Marianum (Rome). In 1983, another decree from the Congregation incorporated the IMRI faculty into the Marianum. This incorporation made possible the conferral of both the Licentiate and the Doctorate in Sacred Theology with specialization in Marian studies.

A third distinctive contribution which Fr. Koehler made dealt with the Mariological Society of America, a Catholic theological association founded in 1949 and dedicated to research in Marian studies. Upon arriving in this country in 1969, Koehler became actively involved in this organization. His participation has been acknowledged as a factor contributing to its survival during the post-conciliar turmoil when many Marian organizations ceased to exist. In 1979, with the retirement of Fr. Juniper Carol, O.F.M., founder and executive secretary of the Mariological Society, its headquarters were moved to The Marian Library (a move which Fr. Carol had favored many years earlier), and Fr. Koehler was chosen executive secretary. Since 1979, the business of the Mariological Society, including the editing of Marian Studies, the proceedings of the annual meeting, has been carried out at The Marian Library.

Bro. William Fackovec has served as Librarian for the last three decades. At one time, he directed all phases of the library acquisitions and cataloging, classification of the many auxiliary collections (images, prints) and reference services. His thorough acquaintance with descriptive bibliography is reflected in his detailed descriptions of rare books, in the informative notes accompanying his book exhibits, and in his lectures on the history of printing as found in the Marian books. Through contacts he established with book dealers during his trips to Europe, the library has acquired a significant rare book collection: over six thousand books published before 1800, including several incunabula.

In 1987, the responsibilities previously held by Fr. Koehler were divided: Fr. Johann Roten, S.M., a Swiss Marianist, became director of the International Marian Research Institute (IMRI), and the direction of The Marian Library was given to Fr. Thomas A. Thompson, S.M. Under Fr. Roten, IMRI's offerings and personnel were expanded, especially in the areas of Marian art and aesthetics. Several research projects were inaugurated, for example, a survey on attitudes of Catholic youth toward Mary and another survey on the teaching of Mariology in Catholic seminaries and colleges. Ongoing exhibits of Marian art were inaugurated.

The Marian Library, which now includes over 88,000 volumes, embraces a specifically Marian collection and a complementary reference collection in theology, history, art and iconography, as well as non-print media (paintings, prints, collections of audio and videotapes, statues, medals). In addition to being a "clearinghouse" for information on Marian devotion, the library is a resource for theological research and for the support of graduate programs in theology. (The library has been accepted as an institutional member of the American Theological Library Association.)

The specific challenge facing the library at the present time is to make all its resources available through an online public access catalog. Until recently, theological libraries, including The Marian Library, tended to remain separate from the cataloging procedures governing university collections. However, the increased accessibility made possible through library automation has forced theological libraries to adopt the foundational structures of cataloging which operate throughout North America.

The Marian Library was founded in 1943 not only as a symbol of devotion to the Virgin Mary, but also in response to the needs of the time. In responding, it has developed. In its earliest days, the library proposed simply to identify the location of Marian books. Gradually, the library developed its own collection, now recognized as the world's largest collection of Marian materials. The educative dimension which began with workshops and summer institutes has developed into a pontifical theological faculty granting advanced degrees in theology. All these development were responses to the needs of the Church.

The Marian Library begins its second half-century with sentiments similar to those expressed by Fr. Heinrich Koester as he received the Marian Library Medal in 1987. Some, he admitted, had reservations expressed or unexpressed about Marian studies. "Why spend much time and great effort on this topic?" they ask. "Aren't there matters of greater importance with which theology should be concerned?" Yes, he replied, today there are great demands on theology, and theologians must respond to the complex problems presented by this world. "However," he continued, "the Mother of the Church cannot be consigned to oblivion. Rather than be silent about Mary, we invite the whole Church to appreciate and experience the beauty of Mary, God's blessing to the Church. Certainly, the people of God has sufficient numbers to sustain some to elucidate the mystery of Mary for the Church. Nor need there be any fear that the treasury is exhausted or that nothing relevant can be found."

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