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Mary: Theology, Culture, Devotion & Theotokos: Background Info

Designed for graduate and undergraduate classes, but useful for anyone doing research on Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Starting on Solid Ground

The kind of tools described on this page will give you a solid foundation (vs. a "house built on sand") upon which to build your paper or project. Encyclopedias, whether an e-reference or print, will give you a good overview of the turf. These tools cover a subject broadly, break it into segments (helping you narrow down your topic), and usually provide a list of good books and/or articles that will take you further into your topic.

And better search terms!

Catholic Reference Sources

This is an updated, online version of McCabe's A Critical Guide to Catholic Reference Books (1989), including both classic and newer titles. Titles are linked to their WorldCat records, often providing local holdings information.  Links to available electronic versions are being added.  Melody McMahon and members of the Roman Catholic denominational group in ATLA created this ongoing project.

Social Ethics

Note: Your fellow students will be focusing in the same subject area as you are, though perhaps on different related topics. Be aware of the need to share our print resources.

Please remember these simple guidelines:

  • Keep all Reference books in the Reference area. You can take a book up to make a photocopy, but please bring it back to Reference on your way out.
  • Handle books with care. These resources are meant for all to use; many can't be replaced.
  • Don't create "interference" with your neighbor's ability to see the text as it was printed. Highlighters and underlining are fine for books you purchase for yourself.  Shared books need to be clean and new for every student.
  • Use thin paper bookmarks to mark your place. Pencils, pens and notebooks are not "bookmarks", and can damage any binding.
  • If you don't need a book for the whole semester, please return it when you no longer need it.

Thanks for keeping the Library alive!

Reference Tools for the Study of Mary: Examples

The following will help you begin your research -- and perhaps find a good topic! Subject dictionaries give you thorough definitions and explanations of terms. Subject encyclopedias help you see a topic broadly, and also help you narrow down your topic; most offer definitions and suggested readings, which will help you start your information-gathering.  See box below for electronic reference texts.  NOTE: These are only examples.

E-Reference: Sample titles

These sample titles are among the scores of Reference books and sets available electronically on campus, or off-campus using your MyLMU login and password.  For additional titles of both print and electronic reference titles (with links), see the  compilation databases like Credo Reference, Oxford Reference Online, and the Gale Virtual Reference Library, as well as other works listed on our e-Reference Source page.

Crushing the Serpent

Virgin and Child
 Terracotta, Lifesized
 Antonio Begarelli, b.1499-d.1565

Abbey of San Pietro, Modena

photo: T. Amodeo 2010