Marian Library Nativities on Display

Walk from classroom to classroom during the Advent season at CJ and you'll have the opportunity to see how people of differing worldviews visually interpret the birth of Christ.

Eight unique cultural 3-D depictions of the Nativity scene are now on display throughout areas of the CJ school building. Displays are on loan from the University of Dayton’s renowned Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute collection, which holds the largest number of artifacts devoted to Mary including nearly 3,000 Nativities.

The creative crèches (similar to miniature dioramas) show how artists from Germany, Mexico, Switzerland and different parts of the United States perceive the Holy Family on the holiest of nights.

“When I was growing up, the images I would see of the Holy Family looked like me,” said math teacher Nancy Dever. “They were light skinned and blue-eyed. When we see these Nativities from all over the world, we see how people portray the Holy Family as a part of their culture.”

As a member of CJ’s Mission Integration Team (MIT), Dever first began coordinating the Nativity displays at CJ four years ago after learning of the library’s outreach program, which loans crèches to churches, museums and civic centers all over Dayton and the midwest.

Displays at CJ include five large cases located in the Mary, Queen of Apostles Chapel; the St. Barbara Engineering Lab, room 235; and the library. Smaller displays can also be found in the guidance and development offices.

The University of Dayton’s annual exhibit of more than 200 Nativities is now on display for public viewing through Sunday, Jan. 26 at the Roesch Library (1st, 2nd and 7th floors). This year’s theme is At the Manger: And Animals Were There. For more information on UD’s exhibits, guided tours, hours of operation, directions and parking, visit

To browse photos from the Marian Library collection, go to

Now on display in the CJ Chapel, the crèche titled "Sun, Peppers, and Snow" by New Mexico artist Jil Gurule is a colorful clay depiction of the Holy Family in a traditional southwestern Native American village. This photo was re-published with permission from the Marian Library.