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Pious images

Jesus' life | Lives of the Saints | Christian life

Pious images bring religious beliefs to mind. A pious image could be considered an illustrated catechism. They serve to educate the people, increase faith and encourage people to behave well. They are often associated with events in life.

The popularization of pious images is tied in with the invention of engraving in the 14th century. They were distributed by the religious communities, in schools or during the annual visit made by the local priest to the congregation’s homes.

Although adults distributed pious images to children, they also used them on numerous occasions to highlight important events or even to intensify the memory of happy or unfortunate episodes in their own lives. In this way, small images accompanied a Christian’s life.

These treasures help us communicate with our ancestors who speak to us of their beliefs, as well as the manner in which they lived and died, from the beyond. Pious images ensure a true dialogue and a privileged path to the past.

Thus, these little images stand out as a result of their regular, frequent and daily use. They include images of Jesus’ life, the lives of the saints, and Christian life.

Jesus’ life

A large number of these small images illustrated various moments in Christ’s life. The major events in the Saviour’s life were abundantly illustrated: the announcement to the shepherds, the cycles of the Nativity and the Resurrection, as well as the Ascension.

They also include images that do not pertain directly to the narratives of the Gospels: the Sacred Heart and the Baby Jesus. These images relate various beliefs that were developed and entrenched over the centuries.

Click on an image to enlarge it and access the collection slideshow.

Pious image Let the little children come unto me

Pious image
Let the little children come unto me
20th century
2001.540.1

Pious image Jesus as a child

Pious image
Jesus as a child
20th century
2001.548.2

Pious image O Joseph, intercede with Jesus on my behalf

Pious image
O Joseph, intercede with Jesus on my behalf
20th century
2001.569.1

Pious image Ite ad Joseph

Pious image
Ite ad Joseph
20th century
2001.569.2

Pious image Christmas

Pious image
Christmas
Early 20th century
2001.573.3

Pious image Christ before Pilate

Pious image
Christ before Pilate
Early 20th century
2001.575

Pious image Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Pious image
Gloria in Excelsis Deo
20th century
2001.608

Pious image Vision of the Holy Virgin

Pious image
Vision of the Holy Virgin
Annould, E.
20th century
2001.594

Pious image Jesus as a child

Pious image
Jesus as a child
Colombon, E.
20th century
2001.559

Pious image The Baptism of Our Lord

Pious image
The Baptism of Our Lord
20th century
2001.593.1

Lives of the saints

These small images also included the saints recognized by the Church. They included saints who are worshipped universally such as Francis of Assisi and Anthony of Padua. Such images also include the parents of Jesus and Mary, the apostles, the virgins, the martyrs, Church doctors, major founders and several modern saints.

In this category, we also Lated images of mystics who had not as yet been raised up to the status of saints, including the fortunate and the venerables, popes and martyrs. This category also includes the few rare pieces illustrating the personalities of the Old Testament.

These small images form a history book in which we can trace the evolution of the Canadian church from the time it was founded until the present. It also served to remind the faithful about the first heroes, the great founders, illustrious members of the clergy and famous evangelizers.

Click on an image to enlarge it and access the collection slideshow.

Pious image St. Helena

Pious image
St. Helena
20th century
2001.538.1

Pious image S. Anna

Pious image
S. Anna
20th century
2001.538.2

Pious image St. John Baptist de la Salle

Pious image
St. John Baptist de la Salle
20th century
2001.553

Pious image Scene from the childhood of St. Theresa

Pious image
Scene from the childhood of St. Theresa
19th century
2001.596.4

Pious image St. Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds

Pious image
St. Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds
19th century
2001.596.9

Pious image Prayer of St. Gertrude

Pious image
Prayer of St. Gertrude
19th century
2001.596.10

Christian life

Much the same as other devotional items, images are an integral part of Christian’s lives. Even more important, Christians made these small images their daily companions, assigning them a very important role: to protect them against all types of misfortunes (accidents, illnesses, fires, lightening, vermin, etc.).

These small images were not just illustrations; they also contained the texts of prayers that could be used on numerous occasions. The prayers printed on the backs of these images were often used during family meetings.

Click on an image to enlarge it and access the collection slideshow.

Pious image Remembering first communion

Pious image
Remembering first communion
20th century
2001.569.6

Pious image Immortal soul

Pious image
Immortal soul
Early 20th century
2001.590.5

Pious image Life is transformed, not destroyed

Pious image
Life is transformed, not destroyed
Early 20th century
2001.590.6

Pious image Eucharist

Pious image
Eucharist
20th century
2001.591

Pious image Charity

Pious image
Charity
19th century
2001.596.2

Pious image Holy Name of Mary

Pious image
Holy Name of Mary
19th century
2001.596.3

Pious image Gardener’s Pater

Pious image
Gardener’s Pater
19th century
2001.596.5

Pious image Merciful Jesus!

Pious image
Merciful Jesus!
19th century
2001.596.7

Pious image Holy friendship

Pious image
Holy friendship
19th century
2001.596.13

Pious image Stations of the Cross

Pious image
Stations of the Cross
19th century
2001.596.15