Nancy Roman

Holy Cards

All my life, cards have been important to me.

My mother understood the value of playing cards (“Best Little Things”)  – a cheap way to keep a passel of kids quiet. We learned Fish and War, Rummy, SetBack, Crazy Eights, Old Maid, and a jillion kinds of Solitaire. Then later it was Canasta, Cribbage, Hearts. I never did learn Bridge, although I have recently rediscovered Gin (online), and now am so addicted my puppy has been barking at me all evening.

There was also my most precious childhood possession – my library card. There was never a better invention that the public library. Why, you can borrow any book you want – FOR FREE – and read it and then go get another one. My library let me take SIX at a time!

In school, though, it was Holy Cards. I collected Holy Cards like they were tickets to Heaven – which may have been what the nuns told me – and they wouldn’t lie- they were NUNS. Married to Jesus, for God’s sake. [literally, for God’s sake.)

The nuns gave us Holy Cards for special occasions or as a reward for extraordinary achievement.  And how I loved being recognized for any achievement, never mind extraordinary.

And although it has been more than fifty years since I was in elementary school, I still have a few of the holy cards I was awarded. Because they were still tucked inside my missal, which I have kept for 56 years.



Here are some of the Holy Cards I found. If you did not go to parochial school, you may recognize them as the cards that are often given as a remembrance at funerals.

holy cards

The one of the upper left is in French – I went to a French parochial school in Connecticut. When I use Google Translate, it comes back with “Brace, Obey and Give Service Happily.”  The “Brace’ part confuses me, but the first translation Google gave me was, “Spider, Obey and Give Service Happily” so perhaps this card was intended for Spiderman, and not little Nancy Dube.

The next Holy Card is Pope Paul VI, from 1963. I don’t know why I kept this card – I never liked Paul VI, because he never smiled. I liked his predecessor, Pope John XXIII – who was a chubby guy who smiled all the time.

At the upper right is a card in Latin and English  – “Prince of Peace.” On the back of this card, in beautiful cursive is written,

  Dear Nancy,                                    
May happiness be at your door
Throughout the year of ’64.
                                Sr. Maria

Sister Maria was a very nice nun. I remember she once told me that her “real” name was Beverly. I thought at the time that she must have been very relieved to become Maria.

On to the bottom left -“Our Lady of the Council.” I had no idea there was a lady of the council, and googling was no help. But I do remember a big deal was made by the nuns about the Second Vatican Council, which modernized the Church. I guess we prayed to this version of Mary so we could stop praying in Latin.

Lastly, “Inviolata integra et casta es Maria” –  Inviolate and chaste is Mary. I’m sure I had no idea what that meant in 1962, since  I still don’t.

I received dozens of Holy Cards back in the late 50s and early 60s. These five remain. They meant a lot to me back then, so I will put them back in my 56-year-old missal (for which I begged my mother for months, and at $4.50 it was enormously expensive, but my mother got her money’s worth, I think, since I still have it, and so it works out to be only $0.08 a year).

Any why am I thinking about playing cards and library cards and Holy cards this week?

Because I just received my latest precious Holy Card:


Like a Holy Card in my prayer book, I now have a Medicare card in my wallet.

Holy Card. Holy Crap. How the hell did that happen?

I don’t remember getting old enough for Medicare.


Theo and me on Christmas Eve. My husband bought me a sweater to match my dog. This young girl cannot possibly have a Medicare card in her purse.





  1. Well, I won’t be too far behind you with the Medicare card! I’m amazed at the Holy Cards; I’m afraid I know very little about the Catholic faith. It’s nice that you’ve kept them.


    • I know I had some that were prettier – but I must have worn those out. i think these were in pristine condition because they weren’t my favorites. Kind of a religious irony.


  2. Deb

    I don’t believe it either. They must have sent that card to the wrong Nancy E Roman. Don’t know if I’ve mentioned before, but your puppy is darling, as are you young lady 😉


    • Thanks… my doggie is an adorable little monster. And yes, I am much too young to have a Medicare card. However, I have to admit, Medicare has been a blessing for my husband, so I am looking forward to coverage. I am not looking forward to pulling the card out of my wallet.


  3. I would love to get Duncan and Theo together. We can have wine and/or coffee.


  4. Generally, Mary is called Lady of Good Counsel (advice). I wonder if someone messed up, or if Mary really was Lady of the Second Vatican Council. It could’ve happened.


  5. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.


  6. Do people still play canasta? I remember my parents and grandparents playing for hours…and occasionally one of the players would need a sub (cigarette break, potty break, breastfeed the newest member of the clan, etc) and I would be asked to sit in. I felt so grown up. I’ve not found anyone to play that game with in years.

    I am cleaning out my office/exercise room/studio/dog habitat. I am coming across stacks of cards I can’t seem to get rid of…some I can’t even remember getting or ever using.

    My health insurance card, prescription coverage card, and my flex benefits cards are my prime movers! I have a couple years before that Medicare hits my wallet (but not many!)

    You and your dog look adorable in your sweaters.


    • I can’t even remember how to play Canasta – but I remember playing with my little brother for hours at a time.


  7. Agreed. You are much to young to have that card.
    I am not Catholic so I didn’t know about “Holy Cards” or “Missives”. I have one Holy Card (didn’t know that is what it was) from the late ’60s. I have saved it all these years because one of my little girl friends gave it to me at Christmas the year my Mom died and her Dad died. I thought it was beautiful. It had Mary and Jesus on the front and was embroidered. It was one of my treasures I kept with me always when I was being shuffled through Foster Care. I always thought it was just a pretty little Christmas Card. Thanks for shedding the light, you young thing you. 😉


    • I loved all the Holy Cards I got when I was a kid. Not many remain, but I’ll keep these.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Christine

    Love the sweater! But be careful. White clothes and dogs don’t mix.


    • I have also seen that white dogs and mud don’t mix.


  9. 65 is the new 40 and you are living proof! I have those cards but they are from relative funerals. I was looking for some old photos and happened through my box of them just a few weeks ago. It was both a sad and happy hour or memories.


    • I also have many from wakes and funerals – I found some going back to the 70s… I wasn’t allowed at funerals too much before 1967.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Holy Cards, the “big” reward that were so treasured by us at Parochial School! Sr. Maria. Sister Maria Asumpta? I had her also in 7th & 8th Grade at St. Anne’s. As much as I joke about my years with the nuns, there really were some very much treasured memories there. Love your blogs Nancy. Such great memories of my childhood. Always look forward to getting them.


    • Yes, Sister Maria Assumpta. Very sweet woman. And I can understand being delighted by a holy card when you are seven – but I was 13 in 1964.


  11. Ray G

    Now, there’s another example of the difference between the sexes: We guys could care less about the holy cards. Received them, and promptly disposed of them. That is, unless the guy was candidate material for the choir boy squad. Now, being older, we are (sometimes) able to see the skill in producing them.


    • I also liked baseball cards. And you could put them in the spokes of your bicycle. Couldn’t do that with the baby Jesus.


  12. Must be mistaken identity for you to get your Medicare card already. That federal government never could get their files in order.


    • I am looking forward to the coverage because Medicare has been great for my husband – but then again, YIKES! MEDICARE! I remember when my husband got on Medicare, I told my mother that it felt weird to be married to someone on Medicare, and she said, “You think that’s weird – try having a daughter on Medicare!” And now she has 3 children on Medicare!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess it beats the alternative. At least that’s what THEY tell me.


  13. Dana

    Does this have something to do with when people say you have to play the cards you’re dealt?


    • I think it would be a sin to gamble with your holy cards….


      • Dana

        (If this comment goes to far, I apologize in advance. I only mean to be silly!)

        But if you get a full house, you’re the next messiah!


  14. Twinsies! Now the dog will demand a card, too.
    You’ll need that card to convince people you are really eligible for senior discounts.


  15. I still have a number of those Holy Cards, somewhere. I wonder if they are in as good as condition as yours. One of these days I will have to look.

    You do not look a day over any age you wish to be, certainly not old enough to be a card carrying member of the Medicare community. That dog! Too cute by far.


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