9 Treasures of the Repository
By Carolyn Kesterman, Communications intern
In the basement of the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse, the Repository houses items owned by the Archives that are not on display around the building. The artifacts there range from fine art to seemingly simple items with fascinating stories. A walk around the rooms there meets you with countless surprising treasures; here are just nine.
A typed note from the Hamilton County Recorder states that the document was received and recorded on Jan. 22, 1855. Document of Incorporation of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati
This original handwritten document from 1855 records several key points made at a meeting held three years after the decision of Mother Margaret Cecilia George and six other Sisters to form their own order separate from the Emmitsburg, Maryland Community. These points include the decision to name the order the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, the mission of the Community, the appointing of Sisters to positions and detailing their term lengths, and as the document states was most important to the meeting, the organization of the Community into a corporate body for it to be protected in accordance with state law. On the bottom left-hand corner of the document, there is a typed note from the Hamilton County Recorder, stating that the document was received and recorded on Jan. 22, 1855.
These shoes are among the items brought back from China by the Sisters who served there from 1927 to 1948.
Shoes from Mission in China
These shoes, along with three other pairs on display in the Motherhouse, were brought to Cincinnati after the Sisters serving at the SC mission in China were forced out during the Communist overtake. While not much is on record about the owners of these shoes, their artistry is fascinating. They are all quite small and have intricate needlework covering them, several with needlework also on the soles.
Johnny Bench is just one of the autographs on this baseball signed by members of the “Big Red Machine.”
An unexpected item in the Repository, this autographed baseball belonged to S. Helen Michael Tuhacek (1930-1982), a chaplain with the Hamilton County Police Force. The baseball contains the autographs of such beloved Cincinnati Reds “Big Red Machine” players as Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, and Ken Griffey.
A young man in Greece walked two days and two nights to catch up to a professor and give him this snuff box.
This snuff box was given to S. Mary Agnes McCann (1851-1931) sometime in the early 1900s by a professor named Dr. Don Daniel Quinn. Dr. Quinn received the snuff box in 1902 when he was traveling in the Agrapha Mountains in Northern Greece and stopped to spend the night in the house of a retired village teacher. A few days after he had set back out, he was stopped by a young man, the son of the teacher who had been away from home during his visit and traveled two days and two nights to meet up with him. The son gave Dr. Quinn a leg of roasted mutton and this snuff box as presents before they parted. The snuff box is stored in the original box that Dr. Quinn mailed it to S. Mary Agnes in.
These sandals made from up-cycled tires were brought back by a Sister who ministered in Peru.
Sandals Made from Tires
These sandals were owned by S. Mary Martin Morand (1923-2005), who spent 18 years in Peru. The sandals are made from automobile tires, as you can see on the bottoms of the soles where the tire tread is visible. Up-cycling tires to make shoes is popular in Peru, as it is cost-effective as well as eco-friendly. Some companies have started selling the shoes to other parts of the world.
This rough clay sculpture was made by Cincinnati carver and sculptor Clement Barnhorn.
Well-known Cincinnati carver and sculptor Clement Barnhorn (1857-1935) made two large sculptures for the side altars of the Immaculate Conception Chapel at the Motherhouse, but this smaller rough clay sculpture is stored in the Repository. The statue features Mary dressed in white with a blue and pink veil, holding Jesus wrapped loosely in white cloth. The original sketch for the statue was given to Mt. St. Mary Seminary in Cincinnati, which closed in the 1980s.
Numbers one through 10 on this African watch are listed in black Roman numerals while the rest are listed in red Arabic numerals.
This watch was given to S. Marguerite Schuler (1902-1985) by Monsignor Joseph M. Denning when she was a novice in 1922. He had received the watch sometime in his posts as United States Diplomatic Agent in Morocco and Consul General at Tangier, and gave it to S. Marguerite since she was the last woman he had recommended for the Community. The watch is relatively small and has 24 hours on the face, numbers one through 12 listed in black Roman numerals and the rest in red Arabic numerals.
These marble statues were made by a Sister from Eastern Europe who visited the Motherhouse for a forum.
West Meets East Sculpture
In July 2002, a “Forum of Sisters” was held at the Motherhouse when eight Sisters from Eastern Europe stayed here for an exchange program. The sculpture, consisting of two marble statues in a smooth, non-detailed style, was made by S. Lucien Siers, one of the visiting Sisters. One of the statues is bowing to the other, the piece is called West Meets East
This cross and ring belonged to Archbishop Robert Seton, grandson of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Archbishop Robert Seton’s Ring and Cross
Grandson of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Archbishop Robert Seton sent the Sisters of the Motherhouse his ring and cross mounted onto red velvet in a gold frame in 1915. On the back of the frame, his original letter that accompanied the gift is laminated and attached. The letter is handwritten by him on his own stationery and is dated “Mt. St. Mary’s College, Emmitsburg, Maryland, 1915” in the top right corner. The letter reads: “Episcopal Cross and Ring with which I was consecrated Archbishop by Cardinal Martinelli, in the chapel of the American College, Rome, on July 5, 1903. The cross and chain were given to me by my old friend and one of the two Assistant Bishops: by Hon. and Most Reverend Edmund Stonor, son of Lord Camois in England.”
S. Joyce Brehm, who volunteers in the SC Archives, took the article’s author for this intriguing tour.
Many items are on display throughout the Motherhouse, but with as many ministries as the Sisters of Charity have been a part of through the years, their collected treasures are too numerous and many wind up being stored in the Repository. These are just nine of the treasures there, and they deserved some time in people’s eyes.