I didn’t think heaven had a photo studio but I believed holy cards accurately pictured what saints looked like when I attended Immaculate Conception grammar school in Elmhurst, Il during the 1950s.
I wanted to have a lot of holy cards, which were given out sparingly, let me tell you. A holy card was a prize for giving the most pennies to the pagan babies or perfect attendance or having no checkmarks on your report card on the list titled “Needs Improvement.”
I didn’t have too many legitimate reasons for receiving them but when I did, I treated them like gifts.
They made good bookmarks and they were nice to carry in your wallet and often there were prayers on the back but my favorite part was looking at the expression on the saints’ faces.
They mostly looked well fed and were looking upward but each one was really different.
Saint Theresa wore a black veil, white cape and brown habit dress. Like a nun with an attitude. Her face reminded me of Mom and Mom’s two sisters.
Saint Francis of Assisi always held a bird in his hand and usually there was a doe or some forest creature nearby. He didn’t seem like the most active saint.
Wowsa, though. Saint Michael the Archangel had a wing span that took up the whole card and a spear and a oversize snake at his feet. If Arnold Schwarrzenegger had wings, you can imagine.
Saint Patrick was nice but there were lots of Saint Patrick cards. He looked like a priest in a green robe, which I suppose he was.
I got one Saint Agnes holy card. She was a martyr and the nuns who taught us were Sisters of Saint Agnes. She was blonde.
The most emotional cards were Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart. I say emotional because both of them held a hand to a ruby heart that was visible on their chest. It was disturbing.
My favorite was Infant Jesus of Prague. Cute. Cute. Picture a cherub in the Pope’s clothes and crown. Picture a mini-me of God. Picture what gentle looks like. That’s him.