Introduction

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.