Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Catholic Nook: Holy/Prayer Cards

Happy Thursday everyone, and you'll be pleased to note that my evil cold is finally dissipating.


This is the best that I have felt in a week. Anne also seems to be getting better. She can already blow her nose, which is really helping. I seem to remember not properly being able to blow my nose until I was embarrassingly old, which Mike finds absolutely hilarious. :0 But now he's getting sick, so he's not laughing too hard, poor guy. And Henry has also been extra stuffy. He too has seasonal allergies, but I'm fearing the worst for him as well. We've navigating this wave of illness as best we can, and are all in good spirits. Hanging in there, to be sure. :)

On to today's topic. I got into work this morning, and my mind was abuzz thinking about some gift ideas for my nephews. Probably because I've been doing some knitting for them, and I finished up one project last night. :) I have 4 nephews, all of them have birthdays in the fall, and of course Christmas is only three and a half months away. I have ideas for each of them, and in a few cases, items already purchased and tucked away that happen to be of a religious nature. Then I got a bee in my bonnet for some reason today thinking about a coordinating holy card to go with the gift.

I don't know about you, but I love and collect holy cards. I wouldn't say that I'm a person that is very knowledgeable about art in any form, but the imagery that is so pervasive in Catholic churches and sacramentals has always appealed to me. I'm a cradle Catholic, and growing up the images that I'd see in church: the stauary, stained glass, stations of the cross plaques, paintings of the saints... all of those things captured my imagination when it would wander during Mass. And holy cards depicting these scenes in a smaller form were always present in the Catholic gift shops I'd go to with my mom, or receive in my religious education class. I also remember receiving a few holy cards when I made my First Communion.

As an adult, I have a stack of favorites on my desk at work, and a few pinned to my bulletin board. I use them as bookmarks, and buy them for Henry, who loves saint pictures and uses them similarly. I got him a few of his favorites for his First Communion, including St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Dominic Savio. I pick some up nearly every time I'm in a Catholic gift store.

And so what exactly are the significance of these cards? There is always an image on one side  depicting either a religious scene from the Bible/Tradition, or a specific person. The reverse will include a prayer invoking the intercession of the featured saint, or for a cause relating to the scene in question. Their purpose is to provide a visual reminder of important events and people in our faith, and encourage us to pray. They may help us to remember traditional prayers when we want to use those, such as the Our Father or Hail Mary (very useful for young children or those new to the Catholic faith) or the Act of Contrition when we are availing ourselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As well, a person struggling with a particular problem or ailment may have a holy card for a saint who is patron for those bearing this cross. For example, someone diagnosed with cancer may carry a St. Peregrine holy card and use it daily to ask for that saint's intercession and prayers for healing.

Holy cards can also provide solace in other ways. Funerals for Catholic men and women generally include holy cards with a religious image chosen by the family, information on the reverse side regarding the person's date of birth, death, and location of internment, along with a prayer.

I just love these visual cues that are a part of our faith. I find them inspiring and a perfect call to prayer.

And so this morning I ventured over to Catholic Springtime to peruse a bit. This is apparently a new offshoot of Catholic Prayer Cards, whom I've ordered from before. Their latest email had this new web address, promoting materials for the upcoming beatification of Pope Paul VI in October. And so I started adding cards to my cart. :)

Some for my nephews, some for me to add to my office collection. St. Nicholas for all of the kids for his feast day on December 6th. A few for friends. St. Isadore the Farmer for Henry, because I'm getting him a painted wooden St. Isadore for his Christmas stocking, isn't he smashing?

This is from St. Luke's Brush, on Etsy. The artist who paints these is *incredibly* talented. I bought two, and will post photos when they arrive!

So, holy cards. I'm excited to finalize my cart and place my order. :) Anyone else devoted to holy cards? Do leave your thoughts in the comments!


  1. My dad has a huge collection of holy cards from funerals--sounds a little icky, but many of them are BEAUTIFUL, not to mention they have sentimental value if they commemorate relatives and friends. Also they kind of are like a family record of sorts; my mom finally took matters into her own hands and organized them in baseball card albums. Weird but it works.

    I have a few laminated prayer ones from the catholic shop, and also a handful from funerals. One was such a pretty Madonna--I'd never seen the "Madonna of the Grapes" before--and I put it in a little frame for my dresser.

    Oh, and my mom had laminated cards made up for my niece and nephew when they made their First Holy Communion this spring. She added their names and the date to the prayer on the back. The kids liked handing them out to those of us in attendance, and I keep the ones they gave me in my purse so I can be reminded to pray for them.

    1. I save those funeral holy cards too! Yes, they are sentimental, and I think quite lovely. For the majority of my prayer card collection, I'm thinking of getting one of those French style memo boards for my office where you can tuck cards in without putting a hole in them. This way I display the images while still retaining the ability to pull them out and read the prayers on the back, and no damage to the card. I will of course post a photo should I find such a board and implement this plan. :0

      And I love the First Communion idea! That site I linked to prints those, I believe.

  2. We left our small mark, a cross in memory of one of our loved ones, on that hill-in recognition of and respect for the deep, rossary


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