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Collection of commemorative holy cards

Identifier: CSC-009

Scope and Contents

Series 1 contains cards commemorating the ordination or profession of holy vows. The second series contains cards commemorating jubilees of ordinations and professions; these include silver jubilee cards (25th anniversaries), golden jubilees (50th anniversaries), and a few diamond jubilees (60th anniversaries). The third series contains cards that commemorate the installations of bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and popes. The fourth series is the largest, and contains memorial cards printed upon the death of vowed religious and laypeople. The fifth series contains a miscellany of other holy cards, including ones to commemorate first communions, confirmations, and mission events.


  • Creation: 1854-2009


Language of Materials

Materials are in Czech, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open and available to the public for research in the U.S. Catholic Special Collections reading room. The materials are non-circulating.

Copyright Notice

The materials in this collection may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). The materials are available for personal, educational, and scholarsly use. It is the responsibility of the researcher to locate and obtain permission from the copyright owner or his or her heirs for any other use, such as reproduction and publication.

History of commemorative holy cards

Holy cards were first produced in Europe in the nineteenth century as a way to mass-produce images of saints and religious themes. Holy cards are often collected by Catholics in order to invoke the protection of the depicted saint. It has become traditional for holy cards to be distributed upon important religious events, often with an inscription on the verso with the date and information about the event. Events frequently commemorated with holy cards include ordinations, jubilees, and sacraments like confirmations and first communions. During the Victorian era, memorial cards became a popular way to commemorate funerals and deaths; they continue to be used by Catholics. Although the artistic style of holy cards has changed--more recent holy cards often have abstract images or scripture verses in place of the traditional portraits of saints--they continue to be used to commemorate religious events.


0.5 Linear Feet (One box)


Collection of holy cards created to commemorate ordinations, vow professions, jubilees, memorials, and other events.

Statement of Arrangement

Within each series the commemorative holy cards are arranged in folders by the religious order that the individual belonged to. Within each folder cards are arranged chronologically.


U.S. Catholic Special Collections, 302 Roesch Library

Separated Material

Other commemorative holy cards appear in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati collection (CSC.010) and the Ursuline Sisters of Maine papers (CSC.015).

Digital Collection

Digitized items from this collection can be found at Digital@UDayton, or by clicking on the hyperlinks in the contents list below.

Guide to the Collection of commemorative holy cards, 1873-2009
Colleen Hoelscher
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Edition statement
2nd edition

Repository Details

Part of the University Libraries Repository

300 College Park Dr.
Dayton Ohio 45469-1360