From the Curator
When You’re the Administrator of the Papal Artifacts Website
Mary Claire Sitek
I often watch my husband and daughter pour their hearts and souls into award–winning cooking and baking. While I’ve tried to match their culinary skills? I can’t compete! Eating their creations is like swallowing love!
But I look at a 12 year commitment to this website and ponder its growth and the beauty of the changing posts, and I have an idea of what my family feels.
My daughter often quotes her Dad: “Find a job you really love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Although there are some quotation marks around, “you’ll never work…,” because she sure does, it’s not the same as doing a “job” that is meaningless to you.
In 2010, the Curator of Papal Artifacts, Father Richard Kunst, was scheduled to appear on an EWTN live interview regarding his papal collection. He needed a website to display his artifacts for that program in addition to the ones he’d brought with him to their studio. He found a web designer. And for some reason only God knows he found a willing participant in me—a technological illiterate—to come up with a plan to write it.
It ended up with 12 boxes of items dictated by Father Kunst and transcribed by me.
Artifacts were then photographed and commentaries were added from that transcription.
A structure was put in place—a Blog with items changing almost daily, and then a section of all artifacts described by clicking on the particular pope with whom they’re associated. Beginning with Pope Francis, the popes are in historical order—ending with Pope St. Peter!
A further section details biographical information on each pope who is in this Collection. Each saint, beatified person, & notable individual also have information about their artifacts as well as biographical information. The Swiss Guard comes next: that is another section with many artifacts including three of their uniforms. Finally, the site contains a section on all the relics Father Kunst has amassed while pursuing his passion for the saints and the gift of their lives to our Church.
The website has undergone many upgrades in the past 12 years, but it remains dedicated to the curator’s original purpose:
I have always had a purpose in collecting these artifacts: to educate the faithful about both the structure of the Catholic Church and the popes specifically. When we call the pope the Vicar of Christ, what we are saying is that he is the voice of Christ on earth; that is what vicar means.
It has always been my hope and desire that my passion for the popes will lead others to the same love for and interest in our Holy Fathers, from Peter to Francis.
“Find a job you really like.” More so, find meaningful work—or let it find you—and while there may be glitches in technology for you & limited intellectual capability on your part, you can enlist the help of a trusted ally. In my case, that was/is St. Catherine of Siena. Recall she could neither read nor write, so she dictated her mystical encounters with our Lord.
I entrusted my work to her intercession. She’s taken a liking to this project since in her own life she spoke to popes, even instructing Pope Gregory XIII to return to Rome from the Avalon 70 year papacy.
When I need help to write histories of the popes, yes I study multiple sources, but my prayer to her for intercession is, “St. Kate, I’ll hold the pencil, and you need to dictate these bios one by one.” And that she did! And that she does!
St. Catherine once said, “Be who you were created to be, and you’ll set the world on fire.” It’s a stretch to think I’ll ever set the world on fire, even in my narrow sphere of influence. But it’s no stretch at all to be handed a project the size of this website, to be entrusted with this work and to see each day the enormity of its size and scope and know I had a hand in making it come to life. I will be eternally grateful for all of it.
Let me paraphrase my beautiful family’s sentiments: Find meaningful work you really love—or let it find you—and you just might work very hard at a project that matters, that counts, that will outlive you.
Thank you, Father Rich, for your faith in me!
To Joseph Sitek, in all respects, my “better half,” for a lifetime of love, generosity & faithfulness, I couldn’t love you more than I do.
With a Shout Out to my oldest friend, Dr. Jennifer Walski, of Bordeaux, France, for her extensive editing and fact checking of every document on this web site. Thank you, dear friend, for all your help, and for the friendship of over 70 years! God love you always!
And to John LaTour, photographer, also a childhood friend, whose photographs are of professional quality. I am so grateful for you!
Note # 2: Mary Claire Sitek would like to acknowledge Joseph Sitek III, Christopher Sitek & his family, & Gina Tennison.
And Kathleen Blakeman, the Child of my Heart.