6 Treasures of the diocesan archives

Categories: Around the Diocese,Special Features

Story and photos by Dianne Towalski
The Visitor

Diocesan archives home to hundreds of historical artifacts

If you attended the installation Mass for Bishop Donald Kettler last year, you probably saw one of the diocesan archives’ most prized artifacts and didn’t even know it.

The chalice that was used by Bishop Kettler during the Mass originally belonged to Bishop Rupert Seidenbusch, who served in the St. Cloud area in the 1880s, before the diocese was incorporated, according to Louise Theisen, who retired in January after 23 years as archivist for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

She remembers the chalice also being used by now-Archbishop Jerome Hanus and Bishop John Kinney for their installation Masses.

Theisen established the archives after being asked to collect some artifacts from Holy Angels rectory in St. Cloud.

Bishop Seidenbusch’s chalice is just one of hundreds of artifacts housed in the diocesan archives, and The Visitor asked Theisen to highlight her six favorite pieces.

Bishop Otto Zardetti, who served the diocese from 1889 to 1894, had this colorful round window intalled in his quarters on the second floor of the Holy Angels rectory in St. Cloud. It was moved to the front door of the building in the 1980s, but was removed because of the possibility of it breaking.

Theisen enlisted the help of Michael Lauer of Michael’s Stained Glass Studio in St. Cloud to design a wood display box for the window, which features Bishop Zardetti’s coat of arms. Lights inside the box illuminate the window from behind and it can be moved anywhere. “I think it turned out really nice, and now it’s preserved forever,” she said.


The Seidenbusch chalice



Bishop Zardetti’s stained-glass window


Before Vatican II, bishops wore shoes, stockings and gloves in different colors according to the liturgical season. The archives has a collection of shoes (pictured below) worn by Bishop Peter Bartholome and one that belonged to Bishop George Speltz. Theisen remembers Bishop Speltz lamenting that he had just purchased a whole collection of shoes when Vatican II changed this liturgical requirement.

Letters written by Bishop Rupert Seidenbusch to area priests between 1875 and 1888 were bound into a book that is preserved under glass in the archives.


The Bishop’s shoes


Bishop Seidenbusch’s letters to priests

The archives is home to an extensive collection of vestments from all eight bishops to serve the diocese before Bishop Kettler. Many of them were hand-stitched by the Sisters of St. Benedict, Theisen said. The one above was made for Bishop Joseph Busch and was also worn by Bishop Peter Bartholome.

Her favorite, at right, worn by both Bishop Busch and Bishop Bartholome, is a burgundy velvet hand-stitched chasuble with a raised lamb on the back. It also has a matching stole, maniple, burse and vellum.


The vestment collection


The vestment collection

Another favorite item for Theisen is the Holy Angels Church memorial ostensorium (monstrance), chalice and paten. It is dated 1939 and was made from the gold of 4,000 pieces of jewelry donated by Holy Angels parishioners. “I’ve always thought this was an interesting piece, the people of the parish gave their valuable jewelry for it,” Theisen said.


The Holy Angels Church memorial ostensorium (monstrance), chalice and paten

A few more items that can be found in the archives:


Amethyst and diamond ring worn by Bishop James Trobec


Pectoral cross given to Bishop John Kinney by Pope John Paul II


Silver tea set used by Bishop James Trobec