When I was a child, my mother's prayer missal was filled with these little cards, and she would offer prayers in memory of the family member named on the card. The cards sometimes include an image of the loved one, although over time some of the photographs have gone missing on the ones my mother had. On the front of the card, and often on the back as well, images of religious figures may be featured.
All of the cards include invocations for prayers on behalf of the deceased. Some mention indulgences and quarantines, in numbers ranging from 100 to 300 days, and in some cases, a period of years. A quarantine is the term used to describe an indulgence period of forty days. These indulgences and quarantines are exhortations to God, which the holder of the card must make, for the forgiveness of sins the loved one may have committed on earth. Committed prayer is intended to ensure the release of his/her soul from Purgatory. The holder of the card is to pray for the deceased each day for the prescribed number of days/years in order to ensure eternal rest for the loved one.
In terms of family history and genealogy, the cards are interesting because they offer confirmation of the date of death, the age of the individual, and may include other details such as their last known address.
|In Memoriam Card for my paternal great-grandmother, Mary Dunne Magee.|
|Outside cover of Mary Dunne Magee's card.|
|In Memoriam Card, single piece, for my paternal grandmother Anne Magee Geraghty.|
|Flip side of card for Anne Magee Geraghty.|
|In Memoriam Card for Alice Fitzpatrick Ward, sister to my maternal great-grandfather.|
Alice is the woman who helped my grandfather raise my mother and her siblings after the death of their mother.
|Outside cover of Alice Fitzpatrick Ward's card.|
|In Memoriam Card for Teresa Fitzpatrick, again a single piece. Teresa was the sister of Alice (above) |
and of my maternal great-grandfather Thomas Fitzpatrick.
|Flip side of Teresa Fitzpatrick's card.|
Click on images to view larger version.