Holy cards are small, devotional pictures mass-produced for the use of the faithful. They typically depict a religious scene or a saint in an image about the size of a playing card or collectible card. The verso typically contains a prayer, some of which promise an indulgence for its recitation. The circulation of these cards is an important part of the visual folk culture of Catholics. [Wikipedia]
For the next couple of months, Ireland Library will be highlighting our (growing) collection of holy cards. Both display cases in the Reference Room are exhibiting selections, from different eras, countries, and styles, of some of the interesting holy cards that have come to the library (or were found in returned books) over the decades.
Since this essentially uncollected collection was written up in the UST Daily Bulletin and especially the St Paul Pioneer Press in February and March, several dozen more cards have been given to the library, many of them fine examples from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of these choice “new additions” are in the display cases right now — the rest will eventually become part of the online exhibition mounted on the web (a way of displaying the cards that has turned out to be quite popular).
To find out more about holy cards, we recommend this fascinating web article (from the Religion News Service) about collecting the cards. It presents a concise, informative “survey” of this popular pious art form as well as profiling one of the serious collectors.
Be sure to come by Ireland Library and enjoy seeing the cards “in the flesh.”