The following commentary is from the EWTN series, The Papacy: A Living History, The Papal Artifacts Collection of Father Richard Kunst. Now available as a DVD, it may be purchased from EWTN. The artifact presented here is from Episode 3, Popes of the 20th Century.
Here is Father’s Commentary:
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 way.
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 business person 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.