UPDATED – FRAMED: Daniel Mitsui’s new altar cards for the TLM – HOLY COW!


I took my spiffy Mitsui altar cards to be framed.  Now I have them, completed.

Ready for a first look.

The central card.

Here is the frame I chose.

The guy at the store and I had a discussion about whether a narrow frame like this would be sturdy enough to support something this large.  As it turns out, its good and solid.

Back at the ranch.

I think I chose well.

Different light.

In contrast to my wonderful cards from Silverstream Priory, which I’ve had on my private altar for some time.  They, too are great.

Now I am in a bind.

I have these great cards and I want to use all of them at the same time!

I guess I’ll have to rotate them on a seasonal basis and also take some to church.

In any event, friends, if you are looking for something for a priest… or just your wall for devotional purposes… these cards are magnificent.


___ Published on: Dec 9, 2017

The talented Catholic artist Daniel Mitsui, whom I’ve often mentioned in these electronic pages, has completed a set if illuminated altar cards for use in the Traditional Latin Mass (aka Usus Antiquior and Extraordinary Form).

You might recall that I recently posted a story about a woman afflicted with Parkinson’s.  Her friend brought Mitsui’s coloring books for her therapy, and they played a role in her conversion and reception into the Catholic Church.  HERE



Here they are, pinned down by low ball glasses.

The central card

Some details

I like how Peter has his hand in the loop.

The footprints on the rock show where the nails holes in the Lord’s feet remain!

And there’s a leopard? with some fancy mushrooms.

On the epistle side card, Noah is making his getaway.   There’a lot going on in the margins.

The not so fortunate in the water remind us of our dependence on God’s mercy.  Lavabo indeed.

And because it’s Advent…

Long tailed critter sniffing flowers, and a curious goose.

I don’t remember the goose being at the manger.

And is that a … scorpion?

Images online HERE.   

Daniel describes all the images and symbols and they are packed.  

For example…

On the central card, in each of the four corners is the scene of an Old Testament prefigurement of the Eucharistic sacrifice: the Sacrifice of Abel, Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the Sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb and the Sacrifice of Melchizedek. Three of these are mentioned in the Canon of the Mass; two of them, together with the Creation depicted on the Gospel cards and the nine prophecies depicted on the Epistle card, complete the twelve prophecies of the Easter Vigil.

That just scratches the surface!

He developed his own lettering in order to calligraph the cards by hand.  Amazing.


Christmas gift to priests who say the TLM.   Have them framed and give them to Father for Christmas.

BTW… I also very much like the cards from Silverstream, which I am using right now for my private altar.  Also, remember SPORCH for travel altar cards and great Requiem cards, along with some “antique” sets that are spectacular (and good for a man who already knows his prayers well).


I wouldn’t in the least mind were some donations to come in to help me frame these bad boys.  I’d like to use them!   They’ll be a little spendy to frame with the dignity they deserve, but what a sight they’ll be!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    These are so beautiful. I have spent a fair amount of time already just looking at the wonderful detail; I just love all those animals. I think this may be the first altar card ever with a duck-billed platypus painted in the margins.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  2. iPadre says:

    Beautiful! I would love a set as a Christmas gift.

    [Was I right, or what?!?]

  3. AveMariaGratiaPlena says:

    Gorgeous. I love Medieval-style drawings. Christ’s footprints on the rock in the image of the Ascension is a really cool detail.

  4. Semper Gumby says:

    Holy Cow indeed.

    Just a guess here about that goose and scorpion in Fr. Z’s detail photo of the Adoration of the Magi. In the ancient Near East a goose or scorpion could be found sometimes in artwork or on “cylinder seals” (a small engraved cylinder rolled on wet clay to make a seal). Don’t recall exactly, but a goose or a scorpion could represent the law, penalties for breaking an oath, fertility, or a food offering (goose).

    The robe worn by the Magi on the right is intriguing. It looks like his robe is decorated with stylized cuneiform and hieroglyphs. Also, probably letters from three alphabets: Proto-Sinaitic (this is probably the world’s first alphabet and is found in and near mines in the Sinai worked by slaves around 1500 BC give or take a few centuries), Hebrew, and Greek. This is a great touch by Mr. Matsui, as writing began in the ancient Near East and also: “In principio erat Verbum.”

    Maybe there is also another footprint of Jesus in this scene. Looking inside the oblong symbol at the bottom of that Magi’s robe, the bent line might be a stylized footprint with the black dot beneath representing a nail hole. Also, perhaps the oblong shape itself represents a “cartouche” (in hieroglyphics a cartouche is used to indicate a royal name). Perhaps Matsui is illustrating that all the pharaohs who tormented the Israelites have had their royal hieroglyphs obliterated by the footprint of Jesus Christ. Back in ancient days, defacing monuments by chiseling out a predecessor’s name and face was the thing to do sometimes.

    p.s. Thought I’d add something about that Proto-Sinaitic alphabet. About a week ago a friend emailed a November article from the American Thinker titled “Moses vindicated.” The article is about an April 2017 book by Douglas Petrovich which takes a crack at reading the difficult Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions. Petrovich translates inscription #361 as: “Our bond servitude has lingered. Moses then provoked astonishment. It is a year of astonishment.” Well now, that’s interesting, as the inscription writer apparently was a slave of Egypt in the second millennium BC.

    While we’re at it please take a look at the “Merneptah Stele.” It is from the 13th century BC and Pharaoh Merneptah claims to have destroyed “Israel.” Well, that claim doesn’t matter, that kind of bluster is common on ancient monuments. What matters is the presence of the word “Israel” in 13th century BC hieroglyphs. Also, see the House of David inscription (“byt dwd”) discovered in 1994 at Tel Dan in Israel.

    Regardless of what is going on today with Proto-Sinaitic inscription #361, and secular bluster about it in academia and media, the King of Kings still reigns. And He shall Reign Forever and Ever.

  5. iamlucky13 says:

    I’m really impressed with the details, and from what you’ve shared of Daniel’s past work, I figured he’d have ample symbolism in mind.

    On the one hand, it’s disappointing that it is rare these days to see this much effort put into presenting the liturgical texts for their use, but at the same time, I suppose the rarity makes it easier to appreciate when it is actually done.

  6. youngcatholicgirl says:

    May I just say:

  7. Multinucleate says:

    His paintings are beautiful indeed. His Japanese-styled St. Michael drawing and the Wedding at Cana might be my other favorites. (I’m tempted to gift them to my Japanese coworker who attended a Catholic Japanese high school, and even went to Mass! Sadly, not practicing Catholic — apparently Catholic high schools are not that unusual in Japan.)

    Regarding the nail marks of Our Lord: if we make it to heaven, will He still have those nailmarks? Won’t it be sad…?

  8. jaykay says:

    “I think I chose well.”

    You did indeed, Faddah. Looked at from a distance, the proportions of your frames are right, they support the beautiful cards without drawing attention to themselves yet, when examined closely, they are beautiful in their own right, in a restrained and dignified fashion. Art complements (and even compliments!) art, without either overwhelming the other.

    And speaking of whelming, I’m over-so with Daniel Mitsui’s art. He just seems to get better. Thank you for introducing him to us.

  9. trad1 says:

    Iconophilios: I’ve looked and looked and can’t find the platypus. Where do you see it? I am ordering a set for our pastor who kindly says the TLM for us.

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