Those of us who have been privileged to be a part of his parishes and his diocese are well aware of the gift this priest has been to his family and friends, parishes and diocese. Exuberance and boundless energy characterize this pastor as he spills his life into his flock through devotion to prayer, the Mass and sacraments, teaching, preaching and community service—and a great deal of humor!
On the side? There is a Papal Artifacts’ Collection, which he shares with you through this web site.
We ask God’s blessings on his priesthood, the anniversary date he shares with Pope St. Paul VI, Saint Pius X and Blessed John Henry Newman, to name just a few.
Happy Anniversary to you, Father Richard Kunst! And thank you for the gift of your life to our Church!
A recent addition to this website is the creation of, “A Few Minutes with” a particular pope, saint or occurrence relevant to the Collection. Last week, the Curator brought several interesting stories about Pope St. John Paul II during the week of the 100th anniversary of his birth. We hope he continues to do this!
No one has ever said Father Kunst isn’t extremely competitive…..
Devotion to Parish & to Popes and Saints
We are often privy to the excitement surrounding the latest acquisition to the Papal Artifacts’ Collection, such as the rare autograph of St. Damien of Molokai, which he acquired or the scrutiny sheet and ballot from the conclave electing Pope St. Pius X. The exuberance displayed in Father Kunst’s demeanor at being able to procure such items is palpable.
These are only two of many purchases that have allowed him to have the most extensive collection of papal and other Catholic artifacts outside of the Vatican.
And it is not only his devotion to such a commitment that makes Papal Artifacts so invaluable, but also it is his continued interest and dedication to his mission regarding it: the ability to use all of these items and, often, the experiences connected to them, as teaching tools. He always says, “You cannot love what you do not know. This Collection is a way to know about our faith in an unusual and diverse manner.”
About the Papal Artifacts’ Collection in His Own Words
As a high school senior, I had an assignment in my Government class to write to a politician. I chose President Jimmy Carter. He sent me an autographed photo of himself and his wife and that started my interest in autographs. I began researching celebrity addresses in all fields–sports, music, politics, movies, and more–and wrote letters to these various stars. After spending hundreds of dollars in postage, I amassed a fairly large collection.
My interest then turned toward historical autographs, particularly of past presidents. I started getting subscriptions to various autograph dealers and, though I was a student, I was able to buy a nice autograph from time to time. At one point, I had autographs of 16 presidents, dating back to President Martin Van Buren.
In 1995, I received an autograph dealer catalog that offered three different papal autographs for auction. It was the first time I had ever seen a signature of a Pope made available–in a way I was shocked that they even existed. I had to get a loan from my sister, but in the end I won two of the three papal items–autographs of Popes John XXIII and Paul VI, both as cardinals.
This is what started my bug for papal and religious autographs. Not long after, I was able to add signatures of Pius VII and Pius IX. Eventually I lost all interest in modern day celebrities, as well as presidential autographs. I sold nearly the entire collection. With that money, I was able to purchase a number of other fine autographs with religious themes.
After being ordained to the priesthood, I finally had a steady income to put towards the collection. At the same time, the World Wide Web was a phenomenal source of leads for rare items. I made contact with several manuscript dealers throughout Europe and was able to access great items at very good prices.
I continue my search for old, rare, and unique papal items, from documents to papal clothing. The collection is always growing.
I am often asked what I intend to do with this collection. It has always been and remains my intent to donate it to the Church where it may be enjoyed forever. At the present time I am seeking a location where it may be displayed rather than kept in archival conditions. However, because of the rarity and age of the artifacts, this would demand museum quality conditions where storage of the artifacts could be closely monitored. An ideal situation would be a Catholic college or university interested in showing this very valuable and historical collection. —Father Richard Kunst
The Relics, Saints & Blesseds, Notable Individuals and Swiss Guard Sections of Papal Artifacts
The Papal Artifacts’ Collection is primarily dedicated to artifacts connected to the papacy. Individual popes, their biographies and multiple items belonging to them, including first and second class relics, make up the majority of this Collection. But that isn’t all it is.
Father Kunst has a deep devotion to the saints, as can be readily seen in viewing the Saints & Blesseds section of this site. We invite you to visit Papal History/Saints & Blesseds to view the many canonized and beatified men and women who make up this section of the Collection. Then, go on to take a look at the many Notable Individuals who are also featured there, including G. K. Chesterton, Hillaire Belloc and a host of others. In some way, they are all connected to the Catholic Church or to the Vatican in ways most of us are unaware.
And that’s not all. In his myriad visits to Rome, Father Kunst has developed a relationship with the Swiss Guard that has allowed him to view their armory on many occasions and share his vast interest in this group of soldiers who have protected popes for centuries without ever losing one of them.
Here are links to viewing these parts of the Collection: