Sacred Stories: The World's Religious Traditions

By Janine P. RSS Mon, August 31, 2015

To celebrate the landmark papal visit to Philadelphia, the Rare Book Department at Parkway Central Library has opened a new exhibition of rare religious texts. 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; an 1813 illuminated manuscript of the Mahabarata; and the first translation of the Qur'an into English, known as the Alcoran of Mahomet, printed in London in 1649.

The books, scroll, and fragments on display narrate a journey through 1,000 years of history. They tell stories about the creation of the world and its workings, building a community of narrative around the sacred word. 

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.); 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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