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Mary Page News items give insight into our interest areas, our outreach, and the many ways people honor Our Lady. We welcome your input and your comments.


  News from the Marian Library


Mary in Books, Films and Music

Catherine O'Brien, presenting member of the MSA, is preparing a text on Mary in Film for publication through Wallflower Press of London.  We'll keep you posted on the status of her book.  In the meantime, below are her comments about The Nativity Story.

Responses to Catherine Hardwicke’s The Nativity Story have brought to the fore the questions that have beset celluloid New Testament representations since the invention of the moving image. Which director has the ability to handle both the religious dimension and the filmic medium? Which actors are suitable to play the roles of saintly figures on screen? Who has the literary verve and theological knowledge to write scenes that will successfully fill in the gaps in the biblical text? Is the aim to hearten the committed Christian, to create an evangelistic tool or to make a profit for the film studio? Is there a need to be 'revolutionary' in style or content in order to appeal to audiences born 2000 years after the events portrayed?

Although Hardwicke is not the only director to have attempted a more sustained study of the narrative of Mary and Joseph,[1] The Nativity Story is the first Hollywood treatment of the theme to enjoy a major cinema release, and her film offers a moving, inspiring (and sometimes visually striking) evocation of the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. While certain commentators have rejected the presentation of Mary as 'Protestant' (for there are no references to the privileges of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception), the young protagonist played by sixteen-year old actress Keisha Castle-Hughes undergoes a pilgrimage of faith that underlines why Catholics honour the Holy Family.

The film centres on the difficulties that Mary and Joseph faced in fulfilling the will of God: the poverty of their situation; the treacherous times in which they lived under Roman occupation; the threat to Mary’s own life and to Joseph’s reputation when the pregnancy outside wedlock became known in the community; the onerous journey to Bethlehem; and the dangers of Herod’s megalomania that led to the family’s exile in Egypt. Against this backdrop, Mike Rich’s script demonstrates the power of faith but does not undermine the human struggle: when Joseph asks for a sign from God during the arduous trek across the desert landscape, his prayer appears to go unanswered but he carries on nonetheless.

Some critics have disparaged an unevenness of tone, which they identify in the grittier depiction of Nazareth life in comparison to the 'Christmas card' ending and overt symbolism. But the film demonstrates how moments of Mystery intersect with everyday existence, as the humorous Magi exemplify. The narrative exalts the miracle of childbirth (the first instance of noticeable joy comes at the Visitation, where the sight of Elizabeth’s pregnant body gives Mary sisterly comfort and underpins her own belief); and it celebrates the qualities of compassion, humility and love in the tender bond between Mary and Joseph. At the Nativity scene, when the shepherd reaches out to touch the baby Jesus in the arms of his mother Mary, the message of Christmas becomes tangible.

[1] Bernard L. Kowalski's The Nativity (1978) and Eric Till's Mary and Joseph, A story of faith (1979) offer traditional treatments; and Jean-Luc Godard's Hail Mary (1984) and Ralph Howard and Katharina Otto's The Second Greatest Story Ever Told (1994) rework the narrative in twentieth-century locations.

Picturing Mary, a stunning new high-definition documentary to debut next month on public television, explores how images of the Virgin reflect numerous traditions, devotional practices, and cultures.  The one-hour program leads viewers on a pictorial journey through history from the earliest times to the present day and presents a stunning array of art from twelve locations in eight different countries.

Picturing Mary is a joint effort of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Catholic Communications Campaign (CCC) and New York public television station Thirteen/WNET.  The documentary follows their previous collaboration on the 2001 Emmy award-winning "The Face of Jesus in Art."  The documentary is narrated by actress Jane Seymour and features quotations read by actor James Keach.

A Spanish version can be accessed using SAP (Secondary audio program) television control.

Picturing Mary will be distributed to public television nationwide by American Public Television (APT) in December.  Already more than 100 stations, including stations in all top 10 markets, have scheduled it to air in December. (For a list of air dates and times, visit  DVD copies will be available for purchase at $19.95 from USCCB publishing (or call 800-235-8722).

For more information, visit or, or contact Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB at 202-541-3200.

Guadalupe Movie [comments by Sr. Rose Pacatte]

Guadalupe [in Spanish with English subtitles] a feature length film in a telenovela style that blends a modern day search for faith with the dramatization of the story of the apparitions of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego 475 years ago.

This is a film that goes well with The Nativity Story because the image of Guadalupe is of Mary who is pregnant: a message of hope to the people of Mexico in a time of great crisis ... not unlike the original Christmas story.

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Radio Maria From The Marian Library

Francesca Franchina, long time member of the Marianist Family, will be doing a series of Marian broadcasts through the local station for Radio Maria WHJM (FM 88.7) in Anna, Ohio.  Called "Francesca AND Friends: WHY MARY?" the program airs every Wednesday from 11:30 AM-12:30 PM EST focusing on: What in the world is going on about Mary; how to speak with others about Mary; and Mary in Scripture.

On December 20, Francesca Franchina speaks with Scripture Teacher, Master Catholic Catechist, and nurse, wife, mother of three, St. Luke the Evangelist parish volunteer and prolific writer, Glenda Canfield about the wonder of being Catholic, and the importance of Catholic Scripture Study focusing on Catholic Family Life.

The broadcast may also be heard on-line at [Click on the BVMary photo ... Scroll down to RADIO MARIA USA (English) ... Click on the windows icon or which ever media program you have on your PC.].  The web site also provides access to some previous broadcasts.  We'll keep you informed about future programs.  Encores of each show are broadcast Monday nights from 8:30-9:30 pm EST two weeks after the original (e.g. Fran's talk with Nick Clooney on Darfur will air on December 25, 2006).

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New Exhibit

The Marian Library is hosting The Nativity Through Children's Eyes, a display of children's art in our Gallery through January 28, 2006, on weekdays from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm or by special arrangement [call 937-229-4214].  The art was created by children in the local Dayton area as well as children from Germantown and Xenia  Over 500 pieces of artwork were received.  Judging took place last week and a total of twelve cash prizes were distributed to the top winners.  Click here to see the virtual exhibit.

Creches as well as Quilts from Saint Simon's Quilting Group in Cincinnati are also on display in our museum.  Patrons with RealPlayer may also view a streaming video showing the sets which were on display during the 2005 Christmas season.  Creches will be on display 8:30 am to 4:30 pm now through Jan. 28 in The Marian Library Gallery; noon to 4 pm now through Jan. 31 at Gallery Saint John at the Bergamo Center; and 10 am to 4 pm Saturday through Wednesday and 10 am to 8 pm Thursday and Friday now through Jan 1 at the Dayton Art Institute.  Admission is free at each location.

Creches from the Marian Library Collection are also on display at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester, New York.  Booklets showing photographs of the pieces displayed along with descriptive text are available at The Marian Library.  Ask for the title: A Celebration of Nativity Creches 2006.

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Additional Web Addresses for The Mary Page

In order to make our web site more accessible, The Mary Page may now be reached at the following URLs:;;;;;; and  The original address on the University of Dayton site,, remains active as well.

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Web Collaborators

Two important Catholic websites have added The Mary Page to their list of Media Partners. highlights items from The Mary Page in their section on Catholic News. includes a Mary Channel on their navbar with Mary Page articles. Please visit these sites in return.  We expect continued collaboration with them in the future.

Also, the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) has added the Gallery section of The Mary Page to the Exhibits section of their on-line museum, the Plethoreum.

Radio Maria broadcasts from Milan Italy, heard in 49 countries; WHJM broadcasts out of Louisiana across USA, including FF 88.7, an affiliate station in Anna, Ohio (north of Dayton) which airs regular Marian talks from UD's Marian Library every Wednesday at 11:30 am EST.

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International Marian Research Institute Course Schedule

IMRI courses for the Fall 2006 semester concluded on November 17.  The course schedule for the Spring 2007 semester is now available.

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A section on international stamps with images of Mary has been added to our About Mary page.  The latest addition was Bolivia.  Expect more countries to follow.

We have posted the following features for the holiday season: O Antiphons; Christmas Novena; and Celebrating the Christmas Octave with Mary.  We have also updated Marian Pilgrimage Places Associated with Fountains or Wells and Address of Marian Shrines in Wisconsin.

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From Signis

Public Session of Pontifical Academies: Mary Immaculate
Vatican City, December 7, 2006

On December 1st, 2006, most countries will see the release of The Nativity Story.  It will roll out to other countries in the succeeding two weeks.  It is a Mary story, an Advent and Christmas story which will appeal to ‘Christians in the pews’ and should have a helpful pastoral impact.  As with The Passion of the Christ (though without the controversy), SIGNIS has prepared a comprehensive statement for its members and for anyone who would like to use part or all of it.

The Nativity Story is a worthy enterprise that, by and large, comes off well.  It is also a modest enterprise.  It is to the credit of New Line Cinema that they were prepared to venture into this kind of religious film-making.  Of course, the box-office success of The Passion of the Christ and the realisation that there was an audience for this kind of religious film was an encouragement.  Screenwriter Mike Rich (The Rookie, Finding Forrester) has a church background and a respect for his biblical sources.  Director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown) was an architect and production designer before her work as a director and she brings a detailed eye to sets and the re-creation of the era.  She has brought a personal devotion to the enterprise as well as a female perspective to the story.

New Zealand actress, Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider) fits the role of the young girl, Mary, very well--a bit stern at first but mellowing when Joseph accepts her.  Oscar Isaac as Joseph brings him to life.  The Iranian actress, Shohreh Aghdashloo is Elizabeth and the Israeli actress Hiam Abbass is the mother of Mary.  The whole cast, quite international, performs with the same slightly accented English.

As has been noted, the screenplay is well-grounded in the biblical texts, both the heritage of the Old Testament as well as the text and spirit of the Gospel infancy narratives.  This gives the film an advantage over narratives which limit the perspective to a literal reading of texts and rely on piety traditions for visual presentation.  It has also been noted that the screenplay offers substantial historical background to understand Palestine in these times and how the characters were influenced by their environment as well as by the harshness of authorities.

As with the apocryphal gospels of the early Christian centuries, the film is imaginatively inventive concerning incidents not in the Gospels as well as presenting scenes which are.  Nazareth was not an easy place to live in.  The residents were poor and oppressed, especially by taxation.  This had its consequences on work in the town, the fields and harvests, the making of basic foods and selling them, the work of builders and carpenters.  This is the credible and realistic setting of the film.  The other major invention is that of the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  This is a very pleasing part of the film, giving enough time for us to appreciate the hardships (lack of food, desert crossings, dangerous rocky paths, the swirling Jordan, the approach to Jerusalem with road blocks, wayside preachers, fortune tellers, the bustle of the city) as well as conversation between Mary and Joseph about the future.

When the screenplay uses direct texts from the Gospels as part of the drama, it is not so effective.  They move too quickly.  This is the case when Mary arrives at Elizabeth's house and, barely, turning round Elizabeth utters the greeting verbatim from Luke and the acknowledgement of Mary as the mother of the Lord.

There are a lot of Magi sequences (too many) with more emphasis on the astronomy than on the Hebrew texts they also quote.  Their differing characters provide touches of broad humour as well.  On the other hand Ciaran Hinds is a sinister, egoistic and paranoid Herod--with a rather oily Antipas, his son, giving him sinister advice.

There will be some discussion about some of the visuals, especially the appearance of Gabriel.  He is a voice only for Zachary.  He is a swiftly place-changing physical presence to Mary (although the annunciation works quite well when it is filmed in close-ups of Mary and Gabriel in conversation).  He appears briefly in Joseph’s dream.  There is a bird motif at various moments representing the Holy Spirit that is sometimes too long and obvious.  The star and the light shining on the crib is too static and Christmas card-like.  The Silent Night ending seems a bit much but, on the other hand, it evokes memories of Christmas for the audience.

The appeal of the film is to the Christian audience which should welcome it--with the hope that it will have a wider appeal to non-Christians.

STUDY GUIDE:  in conjunction with the release of the film, a study guide, written by Sr Rose Pacatte FSP, has been published by Pauline Media, Boston.  Sr Rose has also edited a series of essays by women on Mary, also published by Pauline Media, Boston.

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The director and editors of Mary Page under the auspices of the International Marian Research Institute do not necessarily endorse or agree with the events and ideas expressed in this feature. Our sole purpose is to report on items about Mary gleaned from a myriad of papers representing the secular press.

Shrine Church Dedication Date Announced (La Crosse, WI), August 4, 2006

1. From the first inspiration of the building of a shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe here, the goal has been to build a beautiful church dedicated to Our Lord Jesus and His Mother and our Mother, our Lady of Guadalupe. The goal has been to build a church in which the Mother God will be venerated and will draw all to her Divine Son, the mercy of God Incarnate, above all, in the Holy Eucharist and Confession. Other buildings of the Shrine have necessarily preceded the construction of the Church but, thanks be to God, the construction of Our Lady's church is well on the way.

2. With deepest joy, I announce to you tonight the date of the dedication of the Shrine Church and its altar, in order that appropriate preparations can be made for the most solemn occasion and you can mark your calendars. The dedication of the Shrine Church and its altar of sacrifice will take place, God willing, on July 31, 2008, the sixth anniversary of the canonization of Saint Juan Diego by our late and most beloved Pope John Paul II at our Lady’s Shrine, under her maternal gaze, in Mexico City.

3. The work of the shrine is a spiritual work. It is in the hands of God. All of us who labor to carry it forward are deeply conscious that we, like St. Juan Diego, are messengers of Our Lady and, therefore, humble and trusting servants of God, our all-merciful and all-loving Father. Please pray, through the intercession of our Lady of Guadalupe, for God's continued blessing upon the Shrine. Please pray also for the continued generosity of the devoted sons and daughters of Our Lady of Guadalupe who, by their sacrificial contributions, have made and continue to make possible the development of this important work. I beg for your continued prayers and sacrifices so that Our Lady of Guadalupe may show God’s mercy and love to all who will visit her here.

4. Thank you for your presence this evening. My special thanks to the members of the Queen of the Americas Guild and to the Guild's President Frank Smoczynski, the Board of Directors, and, in a particular way, the Guild’s Spiritual Advisor, Bishop Joseph Madera; to the Board of Directors of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe; and to Sister Christa Marie and the staff of the Shrine. Let us make an appointment tonight to be here on July 31, 2008, in praise and worship of almighty God Who has blessed us so abundantly here.

God bless you. May Our Lady hold you always in the crossing of her arms.

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You are invited to help us pray for our Prayer Corner intentions.  Please take a look! This site has been updated and enhanced and now allows users to directly submit prayer requests or to volunteer as a prayer partner for these intentions!

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Liturgical Season

To celebrate the month of December with Mary:

Marian Commemoration Days

Mary Page offers a variety of resources inviting study, reflection and meditation.  We also list important Marian dates for each month of the year.  Please see Marian Commemoration Days for the month of December.

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Marian Events

Sacred Sounds--Sing to the Lord:The Psalms Through the Ages

The Program Committee of the UD Library Advancement Association has been busy planning a follow-up to the very successful Sacred Places programs of 2005. On March 11 and 18, 2007, Sacred Sounds--Sing to the Lord: the Psalms through the Ages will take place in the UD Libraries and partnering venues. The two-afternoon events will include lectures, musical demonstrations, and participatory singing focusing on the Book of Psalms. Traditions and styles from ancient Hebrew roots to present practices will be explained and performed.

Programs will take place in the UD Chapel on March 11th and the South Park United Methodist Church on March 18th.

To tie in with our Roesch and Marian Library collections, programs will conclude in the libraries with tours of exhibits and refreshments. Exhibits will include musical instruments from the George Zimmerman collection and scores and related items from the Roesch and Marian Library music collections. Visitors wishing to peruse the Roesch Library music collections will be directed to the 6th floor.

Complete information and registration form is available on the LAA event web page:

Click this link for a list of all of the current Marian Events by geographical position.

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Our Mary Page web site is updated frequently. Please stop in again and see What's New.

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