Treasures of Faith Preview

Here’s a 1593 edition of Thomas Aquinas’s complete works. This engraved title page features an ornate pediment with Christ at its center. Corinthian columns double as frames, bolstered by female figures (anthropomorphic renderings of Theology and Philosophy). Beneath the title is a portrait medallion of St. Thomas, who stands amongst the cameos of four Church Fathers.

This beautiful piece—a shining example of early modern theological writings—belongs to Treasures of Faith: Twenty Years of Acquisitions, a spotlight exhibition that’ll open on Wednesday. It’s one of several extraordinary items, selected from the 8,000 religious volumes that the Newberry has acquired in recent years. Highlights include a critical edition of Augustine’s Works; the Decretals of Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241), which are a fundamental compilation of canon law; and a stunning 1648 King James Bible, bound in elegant silver.

Treasures of Faith would not have been possible without the Sister Ann Ida Gannon Initiative. Launched in 2010, this massive project—named for Sister Ann Ida Gannon, former president of Mundelein College—was designed to conserve and catalog more than 8,000 volumes. In 1991, Gannon transferred the Mundelein rare book collection to the Newberry. Her generosity inspired subsequent gifts from Chicago-area religious institutions.