New Library Exhibit Celebrates Two Centuries of Vincentians in America


blog-bannerThe Congregation of the Mission, the religious community founded by St. Vincent de Paul in 1625, marks its 200th anniversary in America this year. In honor of this milestone, DePaul University Library and the Office of Mission and Values are proud to present The Bicentennial Celebration of the Vincentians in America: An Exhibition at the John T. Richardson Library.

The installation God Alone as Compass, Rudder, and Pilot

The exhibition features over 50 objects from DePaul’s Vincentian Studies Collection, held in the John T. Richardson Library’s Special Collections and Archives, though there are also materials on loan from both the Archdiocesan Archives of St. Louis, Missouri and the Archives of the Vincentian Curia in Rome, Italy.

The Bicentennial Celebration of the Vincentians in America is comprised of two separate installations. The first, God Alone as Compass, Rudder, and Pilot: the Missionary as a Pioneer explores the journey of the first Vincentian missionaries as they worked their way across Europe and the Atlantic, and then through the eastern half of the United States. Their journey—from its beginnings in Italy to its ends in the Missouri Territory—took more than four years, concluded with the founding of the first seminary west of the Mississippi, and cost the lives of two of their party, including the Mission’s first superior, Felix De Andreis. By 1818, the seminary of St. Mary’s of the Barrens had been established near what would become the small town of Perryville, Missouri, where it still stands today.

A 1658 copy of the rules of the Vincentians

Its second installation, Knowledge and Salvation: The Missionary as a Man of the Enlightenment, explores the influence of the European Enlightenment through selected titles from the library of these first American Vincentians, which is held by DePaul’s Special Collections and Archives. From the sciences, to history, to geography, to of course theology and philosophy, the books that make up this installation demonstrate the importance of Enlightenment knowledge to the missionaries as they sought to establish a seminary in the United States.

An 1820 letter written by Vincentian missionary Felix De Andreis
An 1820 letter written by Vincentian missionary Felix De Andreis



The exhibit includes rare and antiquarian books and maps, handwritten correspondence, and artifacts belonging to the missionaries, and acknowledges the religious vocations and motivations of the Vincentian missionaries while contextualizing their place within the larger arena of American history.

An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, September 28 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in Special Collections and Archives Reading Room on the third floor of the John T. Richardson Library, located at 2350 N. Kenmore Ave on DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus. The opening will feature remarks from DePaul University President Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M. and Vincentian Librarian and exhibit curator Andrew Rea.

Both the exhibit and the reception are free and open to the public, and the exhibit will run until March 2017.

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