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Father Richard Kunst sharing a moment with his parents at Vatican Unveiled in August of 2022.
Words of Wisdom from the Curator!
Why Pray for Our Political Leaders
Father Richard Kunst
Political structures in Israel during the time of Jesus were a bit complex. Without going into detail, the “king” that we hear about during the adulthood of Jesus was Herod Antipas. He was the son of Herod the Great from the time of Jesus’ childhood, but both Herods were basically puppets of the Roman Empire. It was Rome that was the real power during the time of Jesus, and although the Roman army was oppressing the Jewish people, some of the Roman authorities were very good to the Jews.
A case in point is the Roman Centurion who asked Jesus to cure his slave. This incident occurred in the town of Capernaum, which archaeologists estimate to have had a population of around 1,500, so it was not a significant town but not an insignificant one either. The centurion, as the name suggests, was in charge of anywhere from 80 to 100 soldiers, which means that he and not Herod was really in charge of that town. Imagine 80 to 100 Roman soldiers in a town of 1,500 simply to keep “the peace.”
The Gospel paints a very positive picture of this centurion’s relationship to the people; when his slave is sick, he sends “elders of the Jews” to Jesus asking for help, and when these elders approach Jesus, they say, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” (Luke 7:5). This centurion was a model of good leadership. Though he had the ability and the right to be a jerk, he was good to the people, and the people respected him for it. Indeed it would have been good to have been an observant Jew living in Capernaum during the time of Jesus with that sort of leadership from the Romans.
Ancient politicians are mentioned all throughout the Bible, and government structures are even mentioned. One passage, in particular, is applicable to our time (and all times). It comes from Paul’s First Letter to Timothy, when he asks that “supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity” (2:1).
When Paul wrote this to Timothy, Nero was the reigning emperor. Notice that Paul did not tell St. Timothy that he should pray for Nero to be happy and successful but pray that Nero should lead in such a way that the people can live lives of peace and tranquility in order that they can live lives of devotion. That is exactly how the centurion governed in Capernaum, and the people loved him for it.
How might this apply to us today? Well, we should pray for our governor and president, and all civil leaders, not necessarily that they be happy and successful but that they lead us so that we can live lives of peace and tranquility, in order that we might be able to worship as our faith and conscience call for.
Let’s put this into context of something we all recently lived through. During the shutdown period of Covid-19 a few years ago, the Catholic bishops of Minnesota voluntarily suspended public Masses, because we didn’t know what we didn’t know. It was a very scary time during those early days, so acting in a way consistent with those government decrees was difficult, but we did it, until, with more information, it became evident that those measures were depriving people spiritually and were not proportionate to the danger posed by carefully gathering for worship.
Catholic teaching allows for certain levels of civil disobedience in certain situations. Think of Pope St. John Paul the Great and the fall of the Iron Curtain: the whole thing collapsed peacefully because of proper civil disobedience that the pope himself encouraged. As the Covid-19 lockdowns began to be lifted, the bishops of Minnesota announced they would cautiously begin allowing public Masses despite ongoing government restrictions to the contrary. Thankfully, an agreement was made before open conflict arose.
It is important for us, as St. Paul said, to pray for our leaders, even the ones we do not like. They have large responsibilities and should be supported by the prayers of the faithful. But the primary reason to pray for them is so that we can live in peace with the right to live in all devotion and dignity.
No one has ever said Father Kunst isn’t extremely competitive…..it hasn’t changed with age…
Happy Birthday, Father!
When You’re the Pastor of a School…..
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!
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 2010 Live EWTN Interview Introducing the Papal Artifacts’ Collection
With Great Thanks to Stella Maris Academy, Beneficiary of Vatican Unveiled, for This Beautiful Video!
Get a glimpse of this one-of-a-kind special event.
Hear from the curator himself, Fr. Richard Kunst, and well-known museum expert, Mark Hall-Patton.
The collection was shown in Duluth, Minnesota on August 19th – 21st at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. Thousands showed up.
Happy birthday, Father Kunst! And thank you for sharing your Collection with the public for such good causes.
And for sharing the gift of your life with the Church. For your prayerfulness, intelligence, liberal doses of humor, love of the papacy, and for being a man of infinite courtesy. God bless you always!