Exhibits 2011- 2015

Winter 2015-2016 – “Portsmouth Abbey in Unusual Objects”

This display had many 3 dimensional objects that exemplified a Portsmouth abbey location or tradition. Included were mugs, old Prefect pins, a cricket bat, a picture of the “Portsmouth Chair” created by furniture maker Nakashima, Christmas ornaments, the Abbey cross, a blazer patch, prom dance cards and the like.       (R.S)

Summer 2015- Portsmouth Institute

No conference was held in 2014, but resumed in 2015 with the theme, “Like a Shepard he will lead his Flock: Understanding the Francis Papacy”. While beginning to arrange the display materials the library director had a visit from by Father Joseph Healey who donated a book by Pope Francis. (see Newsletter Spring 2015 for picture) (R.S.)

Summer 2014 – “Creation” Mosaic sets on campus- Petree and Breydert

The library display case is featuring our two sets of creation mosaics sets located on campus. They will remain  up through alumni weekend.

The first set, pictured below has been installed in the science building where they are placed as to be seen immediately upon entering.  Jez Coulson took photos so we could see them in the display case. The art was done by Mrs. Ruth Ann Petree of Newport. She opened Quasivecchio, a decorative arts studio in Newport, RI.  where using her unique creative talents, she produced work that showcases her love for mosaics as well as her proven skills as a bookbinder and paper maker.  Some of her most significant work is in mosaics. One of  Ruth Ann’s most inspired works is our evocative series of large mosaic panels depicting the seven days of creation as recounted in the Book of Genesis. These mosaics were prayerfully donated to the Order of St. Benedict to hang in the permanent collection at Portsmouth Abbey School in the science building.

The second set of mosaics is now stored in the monastery but for many years were displayed on the wall of the school library.  Some were brought over for placing in the display case.. They were created in the late 1950s through the 1960s by Dr. Katherine Breydert (sometimes spelled Catherine- see Liturgical Arts, May 1961 where 5 were shown) , an oblate of Portsmouth Abbey.  They were donated by her then husband. The school has 1- 9 of the 12. Show are days  7, 8, and 9.  More are believed to be on Block Island.   (R.S)

Fall 2013- 375th Anniversary of the founding of the town of Portsmouth, R.I.

Father Damian took a group of Portsmouth Abbey alumni and guests on a tour of the campus and described the present (second of the 2013 year) “375th Anniversary of the Town of Portsmouth” display on their stop at the school library exhibit case. As a former alumnus himself and an enthusiastic researcher and collector of campus and town history, Father was well qualified to conduct the tour, instruct and provide numerous details and answer questions.

Spring 2013-Papal Election, Vatican Stamps

With the announcement of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on February 1, 2013 a display was created to await the conclave and election of a new Pope. Books on the process, as well as on the lives and accomplishments of recent popes were collected. Also in the case was a display of “mint” Vatican Issue postal stamps from the early 1950s through the late 1970s which depicted stamps of the Popes and the anniversaries within their reigns.  These included the 1953 set of the Popes, set of St. Peter’s Basilica, the 100th anniversary of Lourdes in1958,  (a location where our students now travel each summer) , the Visit of Pope Paul VI to the United Nations in New York 1965 that some students attended, the 1965 set of St. Benedict stamps commemorating the conferring of the title to him as the Patron Saint of Europe in 1965, the Dante Alighieri set of the same year, the beautiful set the Fountains of the Vatican from 1975, Sede Vacante, 1978 and the 50th anniversary of the Vatican City in 1979.

The stamps are part of the collection of the now deceased Armando Collucci, who gave them to his niece, Mrs. Stevens.  (R.S.)

Summer 2013- Portsmouth Institute-Catholicism and the American experience

The topic was very broad so many titles n the collection were put on the long bookcase for display. (R.S.)

Spring 2013- Lego Building Competition

Our students held a Lego building block competition and the results were displayed In the library in February. The winner was the PAS shield, building and wind turbine on campus.  (R.S.)

Winter 2012-13- Return of early Tin Toys – Casselman loan

The case was once again full of the Christmas toys from the 1920’s and 1930’s in the collection of Tom Casselman. An addition to the display this time was a robot toy from the period in it’s original box.

Original Winter 2001-2002 Exhibit

The library has on display a group of toys made for children 75 years ago. The examples are from the collection of Tom Casselman, husband of Abbey Summer Elderhostel art instructor, Izabella Casselman. The toys are all tin stamped, and run with keys, gears and pulleys.

Most were made in the USA, although some are from China, Japan and Russia. They come from the period of 1930-1940, although one is from the period of the First World War and the a few late examples are from the mid-late 1940’s. The skiers, ski, the pirates and animals “walk”, the tanks and airplanes shoot fire by means of a striking flints and the motorcycles and submarines balance to run on metal or early rubber tires.

A jester does black flips. One motorcycle is marked “made in US zone, occupied Germany”. Such would have been the toys of our Portsmouth Priory young men in the early years of the school’s history.    (R.S)


Fall 2012- Winter 2013- Aluminum structures by Mr. Sousa

The School Library has a display of two structures, the Mount Hope Bridge and The breakers in Newport made by Mr. Sousa.

Bill Sousa, age 86, retired from Raytheon lives off Cory’s Lane. He was featured in Yankee magazine in 2001. His doctor told him to get a hobby forty years ago, and creating items using scrap aluminum became his hobby and passion. So for 45 years he has been working with aluminum cans, sheets of foil and even steel wool (for the trees). 0ne of the first structures was the Mt. Hope Bridge but there are many cars, crucifixes, and a large battleship also. The Breakers has been “being finished” for 10 years, on and off, as the mood moves him. The largest is perhaps the whole of the Breakers over 7 feet including the landscaped grounds, one of the tallest the Mount Hope Bridge. He landscaped the Breakers with its the beautiful fence with the ball caps on the pillars, the famous gates and driveway with period cars which he thinks is the high point of that piece but unfortunately it all did not fit on the library case so, I have a picture of the completed work our minimized display and two students. The display of the Breakers with stay up until October 31 (thus during alumni, parents and open house weekends). Below the students the photos show the Breakers (with fences, posts and landscaping  etc.) installed at another Portsmouth location.

Addition structures we placed on the cases in the following months. First came the Mt. Hope bridge which connects Portsmouth to Bristol over Narragansett Bay. Then cars came next.

                                                                                         And lastly a model 1855 train  were added by Mr. Sousa.  (R.S.)

Fall 2012- Thanksgiving, Pilgrim style 1621

While adding items to Thanksgiving display case namely, the “1621 harvest time sermon” by William Bradford to the colonist, and Edmund Wilson’s “Mourt’s Relation”, the 1622 description in the Journal of the Pilgrim’s at Plymouth, a diary of events etc., I came across other contemporary works  that you might enjoy during this holiday. These readings and movies  have a Thanksgiving “theme”:

Garrison Keillor’s chapter in Prairie Home Companion; “Thanksgiving”; an O’ Henry short story: “The Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen”, a Truman Capote short story; “The Thanksgiving visitor”,;  a Hawthorne short story; “John Inglefield’s Thanksgiving”; and the Hawthorne poem, “The song of Hiawatha”. Also included on display were this holiday’s DVDs “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”, “Scent of a Woman” and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”. (R.S)

Summer 2012- Portsmouth Institute – Modern Science, Ancient  Faith

The Portsmouth Institute Summer conference this year has the theme Modern Science, Ancient Faith with many speakers on the topic including two alumni, Dr. William Dembski ’78 and Dr. B. Joseph Semmes ’67. To enhance the talks, collections depicting ancient science were displayed including trilobites, fish and ferns trapped in stone, ammonites, ancient calendars, and arrowheads.     (R.S.)

Spring  2012- The  100 Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic ( and a return display)

For the month of April 2012 the school Library had another display of information on the Sinking of the ship, the HMS Titanic in April 15, 1912. New information on the location of the parts and the way that they fell while sinking is graphically shown in a fold out from this month’s National Geographic Magazine. For the display, a collection of multi- media showing how the event has been portrayed, was also included.  

Spring 2002- Titanic-

In 2002 we had a display as well . Included then was a front page from the New York Times for Tues April 16, 1912, artifacts as paper model of the ship made by Mrs. Stevens, numerous books and articles since it’s then recent discovery on the ocean floor by Robert Ballard.  That display is shown below.  (R.S)

Spring 2012- Return of Fr. Christopher’s Crosses

This Lent, as was done for Lent 10 years ago (2002), we displayed Father Christopher’s (Father W. N. Christopher Davis ’48 ) collection of crosses.

Father W. N. Christopher Davis ’48 again created a display for the library case of 35 crosses that he had collected over the years of his priesthood. The earliest cross in the collection is of special interest to the Abbey community. The Portsmouth Abbey commemorative class cross of 1948 which was commissioned to be sculpted in lieu of a 1948 class ring. It is double sided and depicts symbols and Saints relevant to the school, the raven, St. Benedict and the Blessed Virgin Mary.



Also added for this newer display were two crosses belonging to Father Damian Kearney, O.S. B. and the “Portsmouth school cross” (from school letterhead etc.) belonging to Mrs. Stevens, now sold as a silver or gold necklace in the school bookstore. Added this year was a straw cross and a second reliquary cross, this one once owned by Father Damian’s great uncle, a priest in England in the late 1800s. The mosaic (the first picture below) won in student voting this year, as it did 10 years ago. . Second place was tied between Father Christopher’s 33 Anniversary Cross (large raised center cross made with varied polished woods) and the Irish Blessing Cross shown in the center of the last picture.





Spring 2002-Fr. Christopher’s crosses  
During this (2002) Lenten season, Father W. N. Christopher Davis ’48 created a display for the library case of 35 crosses that he had collected over the years of his priesthood. Among them are crosses from the American southwest (where Father had been a parish priest). Those on display include a silver Mexican Baptismal memento cross in a broken line pattern, (one of a number in Father’s memento crosses given by the family at their infant’s Baptism) and a lovely turquoise and silver cross.


Wood, alabaster, paper, silver, glass, mosaic, cameo and gold crosses are represented. One cross is made of house nails, another of silver tubes, one has a papal portrait and yet another has splinters of wood encased in glass. The artistic forms of the crosses are varied as well, showing a crusaders’ cross, Celtic cross, an Armenian procession cross, a Byzantine cross and Trinity cross. For those especially interested in this aspect of cross design variation, a book in the library collection entitled The Cross As Symbol & Ornament by Johannes Troyer (Westminster, 1961) is most enlightening.                      (R.S.)



Winter 2011-2012–Sherlock Holmes

This fall saw the rare publication of a “new” Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes story, entitled, House of Silk,  by Anthony Horowitz. “For the first time in its one-hundred-twenty-five year history the Arthur Conan Doyle estate has authorized a new Sherlock Holmes novel”  (from the inside book cover flap). So, the library had a display of relevant materials on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous character. The original short stories were printed in installments in the Strand magazine and since then all have become very famous, as has the detective. Holmes and Watson have appeared  in “pastiche” modern novels (a literary work made up of portions of various works), old and new film adaptations and even British stamps. Holmes’s now famous symbols include the “deerstalker hat”, the bowed Meerschaum pipe and the spyglass. “In print- Holmes appeared in four novels and 56 short stories. On screen- Dozens of actors have played him in more than 200 films and TV shows. Quirks- “keeps his cigars in the coal- scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very center of his wooden mantelpiece”, sited the Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2012.    (R.S.)


Winter 2011-12–Nativities, Crèches, many styles, many materials, same eternal message-salvation

A sample of nativities made from olive wood, glass, metal, stone, and paper were on display for Christmas. Two children’s pop-up books created visual depth. Of special interest was a small silver pin with the nativity.  (R.S.)

2011-12 Winter – Pilgrimages

This term our library display depicts famous pilgrimages- Canterbury, Lourdes, Santiago, Jerusalem and others with walking routes, informative postcards and personal souvenirs. On the display wall, above the catalog computers, is a color print copy of the famous William Blake etching of the Canterbury pilgrims on the road. This print is from the collection of Father Edmund, O.S.B. Non-fiction and fiction books in the library collection accompany the display and the library has a copy of the Horace Allen ’09 video, taken as a sixth form project, on the Ampleforth -Lourdes Pilgrimage by the school in 2008 for loan to anyone planning that trip this summer. The movie is also in the school collection.

 Pilgrimage 1      Pilgrimage 2

Fall 2011 – Postcards-Student home locations

For the opening of this school year, the library case had a display of vintage and new postcards from each of the states and home countries of our Portsmouth Abbey Student Community. The admissions office identified students from 23 states and the District of Columbia and  17 countries.  To have a uniform states postcard presentation, Mrs. Stevens drew on the vintage collection of Mrs. Terri Mayer, a deltiologist from New Jersey whose collection includes 50 “Greetings From” and state capital building postcards from each state. Mrs. Mayer was an aunt of Dr. Henry Stevens who she passed away some years ago. For the countries of the world Mrs. Mayer’s collection was augmented by other cards on loan as well as those returned to the school in response to a request to the present Portsmouth Abbey students.  Our Asian students,  Jiayi Xu—- (hometown Hang Zhou), Rose Wang—– Beijing, Xuanqing (Amy) Huang—Yantai, Yuefeng Wu –Shanghai,  Wu Yue—Harbin in China and Hee-Jin (Cathia) Kim– (hometown Daegu), and Joo Seung—Seoul in Korea were most helpful.   (R.S)

Summer 2011 Portsmouth Institute- Catholic Shakespeare?

The 2011 Portsmouth Institute was entitled  “The Catholic Shakespeare? “. The display case held items of interest and the bookcase had numerous books related to the topic , a number by the speakers for the event.  Also displayed was The Norton Facsimile of The First Folio  of Shakespeare.

Ports INs shakespeare

Spring 2011 – Icons

This is one of the years that  the Roman and the Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate Easter on the same Sunday.  During this Easter season there is in the  library case a display of  ICONS (defined as a sacred, venerated painting that is done on wood and is portable) with an explanation of this ancient religious art form.  An edict of the Emperor Leon in 726 A.D. prohibited visual pictures of the Lord or of the saints.  It prompted a period known as Iconoclasm (about 730-787 A.D.) when icons were broken, mutilated and destroyed.  Thus, surviving ancient icons are very rare (only about 58 survived worldwide).  Many are in the Monastery in Sinai, Egypt, or are in Rome or in Russia.  Photographs of some of the rare objects are shown here.  The traditional “Mother of God” examples and some Minyeia (calendar of Saints) are described.  The most popular Saints for Icons, Saint George (the patron Saint of Moscow) and Saint Nicholas are also represented.  Andre Rublev (Saint of the Russian Church), 1360-1430 A.D., is the most well-known of the Russian Icon painters.  One rare, ancient icon was discovered in 2003 and is now on display in London.  Contemporary icons are still being painted by artists for veneration in the Easter Church.  We would like to thank the Sahms and Father Julian Stead, O.S. B., Class of 1943, for loaning their examples.  Father Julian also loaned a contemporary icon of Saint Joseph that he painted .         (R.S)

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