Here is Father’s Commentary about the hand-written business card:
Benedict XV preceded Pius XI. Of course, Benedict XV is significant for many reasons, including the fact that Benedict XVI chose his name because of his high esteem for him. Lots of people forget about him. In fact, there are even books written about him saying he’s the forgotten pope of the 20th century.
Actually, he was quite significant, especially in his efforts to try to bring peace to the world. Pope Benedict worked hard to bring peace, but both sides thought he favored the other side and rejected his initiatives. One of them highly resembled the points drawn up in the League of Nations. He was elected at the beginning of WW I, so he was a significant pope in more than one.
And this item is his business card. He was the Cardinal Archbishop of Bologna before he was elected pope. And this is a business card from his time as Cardinal Archbishop. Just like any other businessperson in the world, the Cardinal had cards that told how to reach him, or even for him to use to send messages with the card.
This particular card actually has a greeting to someone at Easter time. Again, it’s another unique item. I have a handful of business cards from various popes. They’re always unique to have because you see that rather mundane, day-to-day life of the person, before he’s even elected pope.
There’s also something to be said about a message written in the handwriting of the individual. For example, I think of the letters from friends or from grandparents who have written to me, and how significant I find that. To be able to see their handwriting is always significant.
And here we have the handwriting of one of our Holy Fathers. Just to think of the time it took him to write this. It’s like by having this letter I own a little piece of his time. —Father Richard Kunst
Background on the Elevation of Giacomo della Chiesa to the Cardinalate
In 1907, Pius consecrated della Chiesa archbishop of Bologna. Although he gave the new archbishop his own episcopal ring and crosier at this time, Bologna was seen as a place of exile and an attempt to thwart della Chiesa’s advancement because he did not agree with Pius’ retrograde policies. The new bishop had no previous pastoral experience but took on the tasks of a diocese with 700,000 people and 750 priests, nearly 100 religious institutes and a seminary. In the seven years he remained in Bologna he visited all the parishes, many on horseback. He was dedicated to his people and priests and believed preaching was his main obligation. He also built and restored churches and reformed the education of seminarians by adding science and the classics to the curriculum. Della Chiesa was devoted to Mary and preached about her and organized pilgrimages to her shrines. Shortly after the death of Cardinal Rampolla, Pius X elevated della Chiesa to the cardinalate in May of 1914.
Considered to be the most forgotten pope of the 20th century despite his myriad contributions to the Church, Pope Benedict XV remains a light to the nations.
Papal Artifacts is honored to remember Giacomo della Chiesa on the anniversary of his elevation to the cardinalate, which paved the way to his election as pope a mere three months later. We honor the life and work and gift to our Church of Pope Benedict XV who was honored by Pope Benedict XVI who took his name when elected in 2005.