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Catholic Library World


In the middle of March 2020, an undergraduate English class from the University of Dayton visited the Marian Library for hands-on learning with primary source materials related to miraculous cures at the Lourdes shrine in France. Students in the upper-level seminar course that focused on narrative, rhetoric, and medicine prepared for the visit by reading an article about the baths at Lourdes, where thousands of pilgrims have traveled annually since the 1870s for a chance to be cured by the holy water from a spring.1 As students examined photographs, copies of case files, and historical narrative accounts, several of them discussed what might happen at a site like Lourdes with the emerging COVID-19 pandemic that had been making headlines in other parts of the world, but hadn’t yet impacted their daily lives in Dayton, Ohio. That evening, online news outlets reported that for the first time in its history, the Lourdes shrine would temporarily close to the public, and that the healing baths had already been closed since the end of February.2 This was just one of the many ways that the Catholic faith, practices, and acts of devotion would adapt and change in the coming months due to COVID-19. At the University of Dayton, two archivists developed web archiving projects to document these changes, so that future generations would be able to study this tumultuous time period, similar to how the undergraduate students had analyzed Lourdes.

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0008- 820X

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Catholic Library Association






Pandemic, devotion, catholic, Virgin Mary