Feehan Memorial Library & McEssy Theological Resource Center
Feehan Memorial Library was established to support the education and formation of men for pastoral ministry as diocesan priests. This mission has been expanded to provide educational resources for separate diaconate and lay ministry programs, insuring competent graduates for the parishes and agencies of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The library's collection of over 200,000 volumes and 434 periodical titles makes available a comprehensive history of the world's scholarship in theology and philosophy. The entire spectrum of theological thought and disciplines is represented.
Other collections of particular interest to scholars include:
- The Carry Collection of Irish theology, history, and literature
- The Pius XI Collection, a set of documents on the history of the Papacy and the church in Italy
- The Dickens Collection of first edition serial books
- An extensive collection of letters of saints
- The Americana Collection
The library collection is housed in a spectacular structure incorporating two wings. The Feehan Memorial Library is the original building, completed in 1929. Its red brick facade harmonizes with the other structures on the campus. Upon entering the building however, the visitor is thrust into the sublime interior of a sixteenth century Italian palace. The central court is surrounded by three stories of arcades. The tables and bookshelves are made of walnut. Each of the reading tables bears Cardinal Mundelein's coat of arms, as do the ceiling beams. The coffered ceiling has a rosette pattern framed in vibrant red and blue. His coat of arms includes representations of symbols of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in the lower left quadrant, three bees. The bee motif is a part of the heraldry of the Barberini family. Cardinal Mundelein completed his seminary training at the Propaganda Fide College which was located in what had been the Barberini Palace. The Barberini family generously sponsored part of the Cardinal's education. In fond commemoration of his days in Rome, and the generosity of the Barberini family, Cardinal Mundelein incorporated the three bees into his coat of arms. In addition, he used the design of the Propaganda Fide College library as a model for the interior of the Feehan Memorial Library.
The library is named in honor of Archbishop Patrick Augustus Feehan (1829-1902). The funds for the construction of the library were a gift from many of the men whom he ordained. Visitors to the library can see a life-size statue of the archbishop in the main reading room.
Since its opening in 1929, the Feehan Memorial library has pursued its mandate to prepare men for the priesthood. This facility was augmented with the addition of the McEssy Theological Resource Center in 2004. This is the first new construction since the completion of the original campus plan in the 1920s. Named for benefactors William and Lois McEssy, the new library space houses the heart of the Library's collections---theology, scripture studies, and the history of Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church.