Tuesday, October 28, 2014


My grandmother saved things: magazines, recipes, newspaper articles, letters, post cards, greeting cards, copies of poems and obituaries. Among those mementos was a box of holy cards, which were  a little smaller than a playing card and depict the image of a saint or religious scene on one side, and a message on the reverse. There were cards given out at funerals with the person's date of birth and death, and those that marked ordinations, first communion and confirmation.
Some, like that for the funeral of John Malenoski, reveal that Malenoski was probably a Carpatho-Russian immigrant, belonged to the Orthodox Church, was familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet and lived a long life.
Teresa Kosick's funeral card reveals her origins in her Slovenian name, that she was Roman Catholic, a parishioner of Holy Rosary Church and also lived a long life.
Some holy cards were used to reward school children, with a hand-written message, such as "from Sister Agnes, in remembrance of her" on the blank side.
Holy cards can provide clues for those piecing together a family history as well as offer a glimpse of a gentler, faith-filled era.