Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!…ut cognoscatis quia in eo nullam causam invenio et purpureum vestimentum et dicit eis ecce homo
A commemoration carried down for nearly two thousand years, Easter—or, as some prefer to call it, Resurrection Day—brings with it a variety of personal history tokens of how countless families have celebrated the day.
While I have virtually nothing representing how Samuel Bean and his family observed the holiday, I do still have a number of keepsakes kept by the Irish Catholic Stevens and Tully families. In recognition of this special season, today and tomorrow, I’d like to set aside our story of Sam Bean, and take a holiday detour to share those items with you.
If you remember back to the stories I’ve posted of Agnes Tully Stevens, the woman saved everything. One way I was able to piece together the extended family’s rather commonplace life in Chicago was to sift through both the documents and the ephemera passed down from Agnes’ mother to her—and then through the generations, eventually, to me.
Though the small card, above, was not specifically presented to (I presume) Agnes on the occasion of Easter—or even the days leading up to Good Friday—it bears a graphic reminder applicable to this portion of the Church calendar.
Marked on the front, under the heading, “Ecce Homo,” was the legend,
Curious to know if there was anything listed online—after all, what a powerful research resource we have in the Internet—I entered those terms in the search engine. I found out almost immediately that Benziger started out as a Catholic Publishing house in 1792. Its founder was a man named Joseph Charles Benziger, and he was born—no surprise here—in Einsiedeln, Switzerland.Benziger & Co. Déposé. Einsiedeln, Schweiz.
Through wars, pillage, and even famine, the patriarch of the Benziger line of publishers was able to continue the work of the company and eventually pass it to his sons, Charles and Nicholas. Over the next century, business expanded, including branches in the United States—among them an office in Chicago by 1887.
With such a heritage behind this tiny card—the ornate border expands its measurements to barely two-and-a-half by four inches—it is interesting to juxtapose its orthodoxy with the personal touch affixed to the reverse side.
I am presuming the note—writtten in pencil in a light hand—was addressed to Agnes, herself, or perhaps a sister. Possibly on the occasion of her first communion in 1897, the note to the girl read:
O, my dear child, pray earnestly that you may understand fully and perfectly the nature and value of this Divine Life.After Communion, pray for Sister M. Evangela.May 30, 97