The Magdalene

Sorting my holy cards on the table
Sorting my holy cards on the table

One of my biggest worries is that this pandemic will end before I have finished all the projects I’ve lined up around the house. I recently checked off one though, sorting my holy card collection. I already had them in glassine envelopes, alphabetically with seperate categories for Virgin and Child, Black Virgin and Child, Virgen Del Pilar, Virgen Dolorosa, Vergen Del Rocio ( all big in Spain) and Christ Crucified. But I still hadn’t filed away the ones I brought back from our last trip.

We have gotten pretty good at sniffing out estampas (holy cards) in “Artículos Religiosos” shops in big cities but they are a dwindling phenomena. Sometimes we’ll strike gold in a priests’ supply store but the best experiences are in small towns where the cards are kept in wooden drawers and the shopkeeper shares details about the saints.

I hung on to some cards from childhood. They were given to us on special occasions and stuffed in our missiles as bookmarks. I bought some at Trant’s Catholic Supply Store on Clinton Avenue South. Most of them were printed in Italy. Every town in Spain has a patron saint and holy cards are pinned to the wall behind the counter in coffee shops and bars. You can still find them in the vestibule of churches, old women sell them out front but everything is changing. Gift shops sell cards on rotating spindles. They’re sealed in plastic, often with a medal attached and they’re expensive. I like the paper cards. You used to be able to buy four or five of them for a Euro. The very best ones were made by C. Mariana in Barcelona.

I found a Mary Magdalene card in Madrid on our last trip, my first one, and I got intrigued with her legend. A prostitute, possessed by seven demons, rumored to have been Jesus’s wife, she was there at the the crucifixion and then the resurrection. She is typically pictured with a skull. I did search on eBay and found an “antigua estampa religiosa” listing for Mary Magdalene for a couple Euros. I went for it and it arrived today from Granada in an envelope with two beautiful stamps.

1 Comment

One Reply to “The Magdalene”

  1. They are brilliant. I cherish the one you gifted to me. Keep up the good work, and perhaps Sonja Livingston would enjoy?

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