DePaul University Libraries is proud to announce a new
digital collection of over 200 Catholic holy cards featuring St. Vincent de
Paul, St. Louise de Marillac, the Congregation of the Mission, and the
Daughters of Charity. These cards span two centuries, feature several
languages, and reveal the trends and shifts in the iconography of St.
Vincent and other important Catholic figures. They also give a fascinating
glimpse into the history and distribution of Catholic material culture after
the invention of lithography in the late 18th century.
You can visit the collection here.
Catholic holy cards are small religious images roughly the
size of a playing card. They most often depict a Catholic saint, religious
scene, or Biblical story, and are blessed by priests for the use by the
faithful. The reverse side usually contains a prayer or other devotional text.
These holy cards most frequently show Vincent interacting
with children or infants, which is undoubtedly his most popular iconographic
depiction. However, while this portrayal is popular now, it was uncommon prior
to the French Revolution of the late 18th century. Early examples of
Vincent de Paul holy cards depict the saint holding a large crucifix or cross,
the pose of a Catholic evangelist (one who preaches the Christian Gospel).
After France’s revolution, and the secularization of the French government,
Vincent’s iconography shifted to share a more secular goal: assisting those in
need, foremost among whom were innocent children.
DePaul’s collection of holy cards represents only a small
portion of DePaul University's Vincentian Studies Collection, which includes other
digital collections, as well as books, serials, maps, archival material,
illustrations and art objects, and large collection of ephemera. The Vincentian
Studies Collection supports both international research of Vincentian Studies and University's Catholic and
The Vincentian Studies Collection currently resides at
DePaul University’s John T. Richardson Library, in Special Collections and Archives (room 314). For more information on the
collection, please visit DePaul Libraries' Vincentian
DePaul Digital Collection of Vincentian Holy Cards: http://cdm16106.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p15448coll4