For if anything is clear in the study of religious art, it is that the artist’s portrayal of the divine reveals most clearly what mankind believes itself to be at any given time, and what it aspires to be.

˜ Brother Patrick Ellis, F.S.C., 1982

Welcome to the digital archive of Devotion: An Iconography of the Life of Jesus. This exhibition was curated by Sarah Seraphin, Special Collections Librarian. The exhibition was mounted in the Connelly Library for the 2013/2014 school year.

This exhibition presents a study of illustrations from the Connelly Library’s collection of rare Bibles and prayer books. The focus is on eight scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, taken from works from the fifteenth through the twentieth centuries.

The Susan Dunleavy Collection of Biblical Literature in the Connelly Library’s Department of Special Collections is comprised of over one thousand pieces; from illuminated manuscripts of the Renaissance to modern fine-press publications.

An early vision for the Collection, which began as a memorial collection in La Salle’s University Art Museum in 1978, was to use the Collection as a resource for the study of religious art; developing a rich resource of representations of central biblical accounts from different periods in the history of Western man since the Renaissance. Today, the Collection affords us countless illustrations to study and enjoy.

As you pass through the exhibition, consider the historical context of the works of art. Consider the message that the artist meant to convey. Who was the audience, and who was the patron? Is the tone somber and pious? Is it joyful?

Some of these works were created hundreds of years apart, and yet the representations often share details. The more images we examine the more we come to see the symbolism present in these illustrations. These selections are all examples of Western Christian Art, intentionally representative of periods of controversy and opposition between denominations.

These beautiful works of art, diverse in origin and of age, share a mission: to convey the principles of Christianity visually. Each illustration exists as proof of man’s dedication to faithfully communicate those principles beyond the written word of scripture.

Learn more about Christian Iconography in our Library Resource Guide at:

View selections from the Dunleavy Collection online, through our ongoing partnership with Villanova University:


Browse the Devotion: An Iconography of the Life of Jesus Exhibition:

The Annunciation to the Virgin Mary

The Christmas Gospel

The Baptism of Jesus Christ

The Miracles of Jesus Christ

The Last Supper

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The Ascension of Jesus Christ