Browse Exhibits (2 total)

Highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections: Public Worship and Private Devotion


Originally exhibited May 24–July 30, 2011
Entry Hall


This exhibition comprises a selection of highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections. Representing various strengths of the library’s rare book collections, the materials document the role of books in religious practice in selected eras and locales. These materials reflect the uncommonly strong foundation for teaching and advanced research that Bridwell Library provides for students and faculty of Perkins School of Theology and Southern Methodist University as well as the broader community.

Bridwell Library’s collection of books for public worship and private devotion spans eight centuries. The types of books highlighted in this exhibition include the Missal, used for the celebration of the Mass; the Psalter and the Book of Hours, for personal prayer;  and a variety of popular manuals for private devotion, including the “Imitation of Christ” and the “Art of Dying.” The spiritual functions of such books often were enhanced by rich hand decoration or printed illustration.

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The Imitation of Christ Through Six Centuries


Originally exhibited May 9–August 29, 2012
Entry Hall


For six centuries, the Imitatio Christi (“Imitation of Christ”) has been the most widely read Christian book after the Bible. It consists of four Books: the first two counsel the reader on the spiritual life; the third deals with the inward consolation of the soul; and the fourth concerns the virtues of Communion. Written ca. 1418 by Thomas à Kempis (ca. 1380–1471), the Latin text has been translated into hundreds of languages and printed in some ten thousand editions. Its spirit of personal devotion patterned on the life of Christ helped sow the seeds of the Protestant Reformation as well as the Counter-Reformation, and it profoundly influenced such diverse figures as St. Ignatius Loyola and John Wesley.

Bridwell Library holds twenty-six fifteenth-century editions of the Imitatio Christi and scores of editions dating from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. These include many vernacular translations into English, German, French, Italian, Arabic, and Croatian, as well as fine modern editions. The books selected for this exhibition highlight the history of this perennially popular text from ca. 1473 to 1905.

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