Those Sneaky Jesuits!

I love this cartoon so much. It’s from 1873, by C.S. Reinhart, and shows a Jesuit telegraphing government secrets from the confessional to Rome, where they’re used to something something UNDERMINE AMERICA! “The Unseen Signal of the Jesuits”!

The Popish Octopus

Political cartoons are located somewhere between bonobo chimp vocalizations and bathroom graffiti on the spectrum of self-expression, and anti-Catholic cartoons are no exception. They tend to traffic in a few shopworn motifs to convey their contempt for Romish sorts, and the octopus makes regular appearances. This has the benefit of requiring no particular thought or…

Wax Souls

  These wax images are found in the Victoria & Albert Museum, and show the potential destiny of the soul at death. They were created for private devotion so the Christian could meditate on the last things. The final two (Blessed and Damned) are attributed to Zumbo, who created larger wax memento mori tableaux in…

The Earliest Known Depiction of Witches On Brooms, and What It Tells Us About Evil

This marginal illustration comes from Le champion des dames (A Defense of Women) by Martin Le France, 1451. Martin was secretary to both Antipope Felix V and Pope Nicholas V. His work is a 24,000-verse (!) poem extolling the virtues of women, but also condemning heresy and corruption. The witches are identified as Vaudois, or Waldensians, who were accused of practicing witchcraft…

Memento Mori Beads

This carved ivory and silver rosary is from Germany in the the early 16th century. Each bead has a head divided between face and skull, with certain beads showing a decaying face. It’s a reminder that life is fleeting. Two of the beads form the inscription, “Remember death / This is what you will be.” Metropolitan…