collage of photos of volunteers working on settings, african and eastern european sets

At the Manger: World Nativity Traditions

Since 1997, the University of Dayton’s Marian Library has presented a selection of its expansive collection of 3,500 Nativity scenes from more than 100 countries, celebrating how people around the world ponder and picture the birth of Christ through many different cultural lenses.

As the Roesch Library begins a multi-year renovation, At the Manger will take place on a smaller scale, running Nov. 27 through Jan. 5.

The Grand Open House, traditionally held the Saturday following Thanksgiving, will not be presented this year.

2017 Displays:

A Nativity to Ponder and Celebrate

Offering a wide range of cultural and religious experiences, the 2017 displays showcase manger scenes from Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. They will commemorate 200 years of Marianist life and give visitors a glimpse of how Nativity sets are created, preserved and curated.


Marian Library, seventh floor of Roesch Library
8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. weekdays Nov. 27, 2017–Jan. 5, 2018 1–4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2–3
1:30–4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7
1–4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9–10
(closed Dec. 8, Dec. 25–Jan. 1)

Long Hidden Treasures

This exhibit samples Nativity sets of the long hidden but rich and colorful artistic tradition of Eastern Europe, especially of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Russia.

At the Discovery of the African Nativity

This display shows the variations of Nativities in East and West Africa and introduces original creations of the Nativity. Included is a large Nativity from Malawi, each figure carved from a different native wood, that was presented to University of Dayton President Eric Spina in 2016. 

Advent with Mary
Twelve monotypes by artist Michelle Arnold Paine invite visitors to meditate on the mystery of Advent leading into Christmas.

A Special Opportunity

Fitz Hall, fourth floor
10 a.m.–4 p.m. weekdays Nov. 27, 2017–Jan. 5, 2018
1–4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9–10 1:30–4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7
(closed Dec. 8, Dec. 22–Jan. 1)

Making the Manger: Behind the Scenes at the Nativity Workshop

Glimpses and Glances at a 25-year Tradition

Look behind the scenes and see how the Marian Library and its dedicated volunteers plan and construct exhibits. Explore the many talents that are part of this labor of love, from designing and building settings to cleaning, repairing, packing and storing sets. Meet the team behind these impressive exhibits and learn about volunteer opportunities.

Also, take a look back in time with a display of Nativity sets that illustrate how our 25-year Nativity tradition developed.

In Praise of Incarnation Always New

Nativity sets from France and Spain celebrate the 200th anniversary of Marianist origins and life. 

For directions, hours and additional information for this venue, visit the Mount St. John website.

university of notre dame
En Camino El Belén – Journeying to Bethlehem

The University of Notre Dame is exhibiting 30 crèches from the UD Marian Library collection in six buildings, with the intent for people to have a pilgrimage experience. 

View and/or download the exhibit booklet (English descriptions by Carolyn A. Pirtle. Spanish adaptations by Esther Terry and Mercedes Hoffman. All rights reserved. ©McGrath Institute for Church Life, 2017).

Parking at the university of Dayton

If you are visiting Monday through Friday, a parking pass is required. For a free parking pass, drive through the main campus entrance on Stewart Street just east of Brown Street and follow the signs to visitor parking. Stop at the visitor center, and an attendant will issue a parking pass.

On weekends, visitors may park without a pass in any single letter lot; B Lot is closest to Roesch Library; D Lot is closest to Fitz Hall.



Free tours are available for groups of 6 to 30 people. To request a tour, contact Nancy Gerhard at 937-229-4214 or Donations are appreciated. 


Related Links

More Information

International Marian Research Institute

300 College Park 
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 1390