Bridget at age 82
I have just been sorting some old family documents that turned up last summer. The last item I looked at belonged to my Great-Great-Grandmother Bridget who came from Ireland. It is a membership card from 1890 in the St. Joseph's Union. It is an interesting document.
The card is headed, "With the cordial approbation of his Grace, Archbishop Corrigan, D. D." Bridget got the little card by subscribing to "The Homeless Child". The card continues, "The object of this Union is the protection of homeless and destitute children, and the spiritual and temporal welfare of all subscribers to the "HOMELESS CHILD".
The Union was formed by a Father Drumgoole, in 1876, in New York City. Members could receive an indulgence of 400 days for every day in which they recited the Union's prayer twice. For those readers who don't know what indulgences were, they allowed devout Catholics to earn time-off from purgatory. Masses were also to be said for the benefit of the subscribers. If they wished the masses to benefit a dead person they could "procure certificates in the name of the deceased" - presumably by purchasing additional subscriptions.
On one edge there is a little pointer hand followed by the statement, "Last year's certificate is of no use." Better keep that subscription current!
I enjoyed this glimpse into the humanity of an Irish immigrant almost 120 years ago.