When my great-uncle Patrick “Taddle” Craven was killed in action on October 1, 1918 in Apremont, France, he had several religious articles in his possession. Here is a photo of his rosary:
I recently came across something Dorothy Day had written about the rosary. It made me think of Taddle:
“I have said rosaries on picket lines and in prisons, in sickness and in health, and one of our friends who lost a leg in the Second World War said that he held fast to his rosary as he lay wounded on the battlefield, holding on to it as he was hanging on to life. In peace, working for peace, suffering for peace, and suffering in war, in times of joy and pain and terror, Mary has been Refuge of Sinners.”
My great-grandmother Marya Janicki (nee Rybinska) belonged to the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St. Hedwig’s parish in Wilmington, Delaware. Here is a photo of the Miraculous Medal she wore when attending Mass with the Sodality, a pious association that engaged in devotional and charitable activities.
The inscription in Polish is the traditional one of the Miraculous Medal. In English it reads, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee.”
Marya also had a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Patroness of Poland.
The Wikipedia article describes the image thus:
“The Virgin Mary is shown as the Hodegetria (‘One Who Shows the Way’). In it the Virgin directs attention away from herself, gesturing with her right hand toward Jesus as the source of salvation. In turn, the Child extends His right hand toward the viewer in blessing while holding a book of the Gospels in His left hand.”
Additional information is available here: http://www.polishamericancenter.org/Czestochowa.htm
According to my Mom, Marya kept this picture hanging on her bedroom wall. Mom remembers seeing it there when she was a child. It was probably part of a calendar at one point. Here is what is written on the back:
Mom thinks it is a Christmas greeting from a missionary association.
Both the medal and the picture date from the 1940’s.
These religious articles are little reminders of what was important to Taddle and Marya, of where they found hope and strength. The beads are worn, the medal is scuffed, but the passage of time seems to add an extra layer of holiness to them.