A significant part of the art holdings of the Blackfriars Gallery and Library, the biblical movie posters that comprise this collection were carefully gathered by Fr. Michael Morris (1949-2016) over the years as an adjunct to his interest in religious film. Since its debute in the Blackfriars Gallery in Fall 2006, the collection has traveled to the Museum Of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) in St. Louis, the University of San Francisco (Thacher Gallery), The Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA) in Manhattan, and The Jewish Museum in Melbourne Australia. A catalog essay of the show was published by MOBIA under the title REEL RELIGION: A CENTURY OF THE BIBLE IN FILM. During the New York exhibition, an official from the Vatican Library who had viewed the collection enthusiastically suggested that it would be well received in Rome.
Due to its large size, the collection has been exhibited in Blackfriars Gallery at DSPT in stages:
MOVING PICTURES AND BEYOND (Fall 2006 - Spring 2007): An exhibition of worldwide cinematic art inspired by the religious epics set in the ancient world, from Adam and Eve to Constantine the Great, including posters, motion picture stills, lobby cards, books, programs, and props. The “Sword & Sandal” Religion Film Festival accompanied the exhibition with weekly screenings of films showcased in the exhibit.
EARLY CHRISTIANS IN THE CINEMA - Sword and Sandal Movies (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015): In the Acts of the Apostles the travails of the emerging Christian Church in Jerusalem are recounted. With the martyrdom of Saint Stephen prefiguring the persecutions that would ensue throughout the Roman Empire for the next three hundred years, the drama of Christians suffering for their faith has been a theme immortalized in numerous classic films. This art exhibit in Blackfriars Gallery has been composed to complement the Dominican Colloquia in Berkeley, What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? Here international movie posters representing some of the most elaborate spectacles in cinema history recall those films that dramatized the conflict between the Greco-Roman classical world and the emerging followers of Jesus Christ whose spilt blood helped transform and convert an entire empire. Nicknamed “Sword and Sandal” movies for their representation of the ancient world, the genre has remained popular up to the present day.
These exhibitions were made possible byThe Jane Dillenberger Fine Arts Endowment Fund, and by generous contributions from the following patrons: Rosemary Hobbs Hone, Frank Caliri III, Mark and Ana Albert, and The Center for Arts Religion and Education.