First Glimpse of the Seton Shrine Museum and the Provincial Archives

My name is Nathaniel Lee Rush Bentz, I am a senior student at Mount Saint Mary’s University (Class of 2020). I am a History major—with an English Minor—wanting to concentrate on the medieval world, specifically on knights and chivalric orders. I hope to go into the archival field of history, working within its subset of the preservation of data and artifacts.

Back in August 2019, I entered the Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives to start my Fall 2019-semester internship, and I was amazed by the beauty and care that was surrounding the exhibits and covering the halls of the building. The tour of the Seton Shrine Museum was fascinating, because of all the original pieces that proudly represented the Daughters of Charity’s dedication to provide medical care with kindness and patience to all those in need.

There is one piece saved in the Seton Shrine that is incredibly beautiful: the painting, “Saint Vincent de Paul” by Pietro Gagliardi (c. 1843). This artwork caught my attention due to its size, quality, and history behind it. Gagliardi’s piece is large enough to almost fill up the wall from which it is propped on, over 9 feet high and 6 feet wide! I could only imagine the amount of time and effort used for the sake of this piece—even the care it took to transfer the piece to this Seton Shrine. Quality was top priority as well; there is little damage seen on this piece. Such noticeable dedication archivists have implemented into this piece brings me hope that I one day get to preserve such pieces related in my own historical sub-field.

The history behind this very piece is interesting. In the late 1840’s, artists painted the Sisters of Charity black caps over cornette of the French Daughters of Charity. What is truly remarkable is that artists shortly after 1850 repainted the original cornette to undo the correction! The Seton Shrine and its Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives is home to many more fascinating artifacts with their own stories to tell for visitors and researchers.

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