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August 10 - 23, 2014

Exhibit: Jesuits, sisters who helped build church in US

By Michelle Martin

Staff writer

A library catalog from the 1870's is on display in the new LUMA exhibition, "Crossings and Dwellings" which opens on July 19 and runs through Oct. 19. Using historical maps, books, objects, and textiles, "Crossings and Dwellings" tells the story of European Jesuits and women religious who arrived in America's borderlands to serve indigenous and immigrant populations. (Natalie Battaglia, Catholic New World)

This rare first edition of "Spiritual Exercises" -published in Latin in 1548 as "Exercitia Spiritvalia" - is a foundational document of the Society of Jesus on display in the new LUMA exhibition. (Natalie Battaglia, Catholic New World)

This gold Dalmatic is part of a set of the 19th-Century vestments from Holy Family Parish, established in 1857 on Chicago's Near West Side by Dutch Father Arnold J. Damen, S.J. Worn by deacons during special occasions such as Christmas and Easter, this dalmatic helped inject a sense of grandeur into the lives of the Irish immigrants who attended Mass at Holy Family. (Natalie Battaglia, Catholic New World)

Monstrances on display in the new LUMA exhibition. (Natalie Battaglia, Catholic New World)

A ciborium and candle holder on display. (Natalie Battaglia, Catholic New World)

A 1930 photo of Sister Mary Justitia Coffey, BVM, the first president of Mundelein College, and her desk along with an art deco lamp from the reading tables in the library of Mundelein College are on display in the new LUMA exhibition, "Crossings and Dwellings" which opens on July 19 and runs through Oct. 19. (Natalie Battaglia, Catholic New World)

Visitors to the Loyola Museum of Art can take a journey crossing the Atlantic and spanning the continent — as well as nearly four centuries — with “Crossings and Dwellings: Restored Jesuits, Women Religious, American Experience, 1814–2014.” Artifacts include a flint cross given to Jesuit Pere Jacques Marquette, who wintered on the shores of Lake Michigan on what is now the South Side of Chicago, to an Oscar won by Mercedes McCambridge, a graduate of Mundelein College, for her role in 1949’s “All the King’s Men.”

The exhibit, mounted in honor of the 200th anniversary of the second Jesuit restoration, starts by telling the story of the Jesuit presence in the American Midwest and their travels across North America. It also looks at the contributions of religious women to the development of Chicago and other parts of the United States, particularly the Religious of the Sacred Heart and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

‘Short-term planning’

Pamela Ambrose, director of cultural affairs for Loyola University Chicago and director of LUMA, said the museum was approached two years ago by Jesuit Father Mark Bosco about mounting the exhibit to coincide with a conference commemorating the Jesuit restoration. But Bosco promised the museum wouldn’t be on its own: Jesuit Father Stephen Schloesser, a professor of French history, was asked to curate it.

Planning a visit

Loyola University Museum of Art, 820 N. Michigan Ave. (right by the Water Tower)

Open: Tuesdays (free admission): 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Wednesday– Sunday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Admission: free on Tuesdays; $8; Seniors (65 and over), $6. Admission is free anytime for Loyola students with IDs.

Contact:; call (312) 915- 7600.

“To do it in two years, that’s short-term planning,” Ambrose said.“We have beautiful things in the exhibition. These monstrances are incredible.”

David Miros of the Jesuit Archives of the Central United States in St. Louis said the archives provided many items, including those that highlight the ministry of Jesuit Father Pierre De Smet, a well-known missionary who traveled through the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Northwest, and came through the St. Louis area. The De Smet items, include everything from liturgical vestments to globes that the missionary brought over from Belgium.

Coincidentally, when he was first contacted about this exhibit, Miros said he had just returned from a lending trip to Belgium, where he visited a university that has the bills of lading for the very globes that are in the Loyola exhibit.

This exhibit really highlights the connections that existed between Europe and the United States, Miros said, displaying many of the items that the Jesuits brought from Europe. On the other hand, there are many Native American artifacts held in private collections in Europe — often given as tokens of appreciation for support of the missionaries in America.

Miros said that he likes the idea of people getting to understand history through artifacts.

“Sometimes there’s no better way to explain history than through items of material culture,” Miros said.

Jesuit restoration

The 1814 restoration of the Jesuits followed a papal suppression of the order in 1773. After the order received permission to resume its activities in western European countries and their colonies, it returned to what is now the central United States in short order.

“They did what the Society of Jesus do here in Chicago,” Ambrose said. “They started schools and hospitals. St. Ignatius started as a seminary.”

At the same time, religious women were arriving in the area, starting their own schools and hospitals and colleges.

“These women were selfstarters,” Ambrose said. “That’s a whole other story.”

The first challenge to putting the exhibit together was finding artifacts to include, Ambrose said. Then the museum has to get permission to use them, and go through the practical steps to pack them up and bring them to the museum and set the exhibit up. The actual set up took about a month, Ambrose said.

Schloesser, who had the help of several graduate students in pulling the exhibit together, said they were fortunate to have the help of so many willing lenders.

Other artifacts came from Father Jeremiah Boland at Holy Family Parish on Roosevelt Road. Holy Family Church, built in 1857 by Jesuit Father Arnold Damen, had many items in a safe that ended up in the exhibit. Another trove was in the Loyola University library’s Archives and Special Collections, and many items in the sections on women religious came from the Women’s Leadership Archives at the Gannon Center of Loyola University.

Schloesser said he hopes the exhibit helps people realize that the Jesuits and the other religious who came to the United States were immigrants, some serving immigrant populations and others going out to evangelize among the Native Americans.

“In a way, it make totals sense for a European historian to do this,” Schloesser said. “It gets at the idea that this is the American story, a story of immigration.”

“Imagine yourself in these people’s shoes, down at the shipping docks, about to cross the Atlantic to North America,” Schloesser said. “These experiences traumatized people. Social psychologists say it takes three generations for an immigrant family to adjust. These people had six weeks.”