For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development



Sacred Stories: The World’s Religious Traditions Exhibition will highlight sacred religious works


To celebrate the landmark papal visit to Philadelphia, the Rare Book Department at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Parkway Central Library will open a new exhibition of rare religious texts on August 31. Running through January 30, 2016, Sacred Stories:  The World’s Religious Traditions will showcase the department’s unique collection of sacred works that share the broadly human experiences of belief, faith, and worship, mediated through the written word.


Sacred Stories highlights the shared traditions of scripture in Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. The exhibition will showcase sacred texts both printed and handwritten, featuring exquisitely illuminated manuscripts from Europe and the Middle East and notable books, such as the first Bible printed in North America and translated into the Massachusett language of the Algonquins, known as the “Eliot Indian” Bible; Martin Luther’s first German New Testament printed in Wittenburg in 1522; and the first translation of the Koran into English, known as the Alcoran of Mahomet, printed in London in 1649.


“As a cultural center of our city, we are so pleased to participate in this special moment in Philadelphia history, honoring many religions through our collection of rare texts,” said Siobhan A. Reardon, President and Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia. “These sacred stories offer visitors to our city and our own diverse population an eye-opening survey of the rich histories and commonalities of the world’s faiths.”


While Parkway Central is hosting Sacred Stories, the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia will also be presenting the exhibition Catholics in the New World: A Selection of 16th–18th Century Texts. This small installation presents works from both sides of the Atlantic that document Catholics’ evolving relationship with the Americas.

Sacred Stories is free and open to the public during the Rare Book Department’s operating hours: Mondays–Saturday 9:00 a.m. –5:00 p.m.  The Rare Book Department will have extended viewing hours for this exhibition on Sunday, September 20 (1:00 – 5:00 p.m.) and Tuesday, September 22 and Wednesday, September 23 (9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.) Please note that the Parkway Central Library will be closed on Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27 during the papal visit. For more information about Sacred Stories or the Rare Book Department, please call 215-686-5416 or email


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The 61-location Free Library of Philadelphia system advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 25,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi; and rich special collections, including  those at Parkway Central Library and at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. With more than 6 million in-person and millions more online visits annually, the Free Library and the Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850