Signatures of Saints

I am in Chicago… well… north of Chicago.

Yesterday, I visited for the first time the campus of Mundelein Seminary, the University of St. Mary of (by?) the Lake. As part of the visit I was able to see some of their treasures in their library vault. Card. Mundelein was, as many people were back in the day, a great collector of signatures of famous people. The collection is in the library of the seminary. Among the treasures are handwritten letters of many saints and secular figures. Here are a few of the saintly signatures I saw.

First, St. Teresa of Avila:


And because there are lots of trade reading the blog, and fans of Dominicans, St. Pope Pius V.  Enjoy and imagine what that “nel suo pristino stato” might refer to.


And here is the great St. Robert Bellarmine.


There was also a letter from St. Julianna Falconieri to her sister, to which she actually affixed one of her teeth.  Yes… teeth.  I didn’t get to read the letter, so I don’t know the back story on that.  I don’t think she thought that her sister was the… you know….

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. AGA says:

    Oh, to go back to a Church full of “liberals” like Cardinal Mundelein!

    In 1935, he said “that not war, nor famine, nor pestilence have brought so much suffering and pain to the human race, as have hasty, ill-advised marriages, unions entered into without the knowledge, the preparation, the thought even an important commercial contract merits and receives. God made marriage an indissoluble contract, Christ made it a sacrament, the world today has made it a plaything of passion, an accompaniment of sex, a scrap of paper to be torn up at the whim of the participants.”

    …and, he might have had some beef with you, Fr Z: “The trouble with [the Church] in the past has been that we were too often allied or drawn into an alliance with the wrong side. Selfish employers of labor have flattered the Church by calling it the great conservative force, and then called upon it to act as a police force while they paid but a pittance of wage to those who work for them. I hope that day has gone by. Our place is beside the workingman.”

  2. Cathy says:

    ….tooth fairy?

  3. The Masked Chicken says:

    If anyone ever gets to see these sorts of second-class relics in the wild and is tempted to take a picture – do NOT use flash (set the camera to high speed, ISO 400 or 800). Intense flash can causes photochemical reactions in pigments.

    On the other hand, given the proliferation of computers, will we even have any hand-writing from future saints :(

    The Chicken

  4. skvie5738 says:

    Chicago! Blognic, perhaps?? :)

  5. Michael_Thoma says:

    Fr. Z,

    If you have your vestments handy and are available at 1030a, stop by St. Mary’s Malankara Syrian Catholic parish in Evanston; their always happy to welcome a Traditionally minded Latin! If you don’t have your vestments handy, stop by anyway, you can put on a Syriac BDU!

    If you see Very Rev. Fr. Robert Barron, see if he can come with you; Bp. Joseph Perry just visited a couple weeks ago!

  6. Chick says:

    I was there at the same time for the Summer Scripture Seminar, sorry I missed the chance to see you…

  7. This was quite fascinating. Just seeing their actual signatures puts their lives into a real world context of the saints living everyday lives complete with their own human penmanship. Good reminder that the saints are not too distant. That their lives were, in many ways, like ours. And that we can follow in their path. We pray to St. Robert Bellarmine before our Baltimore Catechism study each Sunday.

  8. MattnSue says:

    Growing up, we would visit my mother’s Godmother (a distant counsin, several times removed from us) a few times a year. Being young, we enjoyed looking at all the antiques she had still had in the house, such as the shutter dial antique consol radio in the living room or the Model T in the garage. With all of these “cool things,” we barely noticed the photos on the wall, mostly of family that we didn’t know, but one of the pope. It was not until much later, when I was in high school and my brother in college at St Charles Seminary in Philadelphia, that he noticed it was a picture of Pius X, and that there was a long paragraph hand written by him under the photo, which he signed. Amazed, he asked how she came in posession of it. Apparently, a friend or relative of hers had been in Rome and been granted an Audience, and took this signed note home. It meant more to her that a friend had an audience with the pope than that she had a signed (second class) relic of a saint. When my grand-godmother (a term I just coined) passed, the photo was given to my brother.

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