DAYTON, Ohio - She is black, she is white, she is Latino. She is "Our Lady of Tenderness," "the Mother of Sorrows" and "the Woman of Freedom."
Designers of Byzantine icons portrayed her as downright homely. Renaissance artist Raphael imagined her a stunning beauty. One modern printmaker even portrayed her as a young mother wearing headphones and holding a toddler on her hip.
Although images of "Mary, the mother of God and of all faithful" vary throughout countries and centuries, she is undeniably an integral cultural element throughout the world, especially in the Christmas season.
The University of Dayton has the distinction of serving as caretaker to the world's largest collection of books, videos - and even some fascinating wine labels - related to the life of "the mother of the whole Christ."
It also includes the office of Marianist priest Johann Roten, a native of Switzerland and one of the world's leading experts on the life of …