Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Ryan Memorial Library
Rare books, vaulted ceilings and arched windows inspire research
The Rare Book Collection is tucked inside the lower level of the Ryan Memorial Library, a building in the style of the Italian Renaissance on the grounds of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. Enter and prepare for serious study and research amidst vaulted ceilings and arched windows.
The Rare Book Collection contains over 17,000 volumes, including a remarkable collection of Catholic prayer books that date to the 19th century. Additional highlights include copies of the first English Catholic bibles, five volumes with the signature of Saint John Neumann, and four inscribed by Pope Paul VI and presented to John Cardinal Krol. Several portraits by Philadelphia artist Thomas Eakins grace the walls.
The Ryan Memorial Library and its Rare Book Collection date back to 1832 when the seminary was founded. In 1911, the library moved to its current location, which is named for Archbishop Patrick J. Ryan, second archbishop of Philadelphia. It is considered a wonderful resource for the study of systematic theology, canon law and church history, particularly the history of the Catholic Church in the United States.
The Library is open to all but appointment is needed for the Rare Book collection, which is not circulated. However, visitors can borrow library materials if they purchase a visitor’s library card ($15 for six months; $25 for a year)
A century ago, painter Thomas Eakins bicycled to the Seminary in campus to work on portraits of six prominent clergy.