April 1, 2022 | Archives
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

The two monstrances found at Mount Saint Joseph, pictured in St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro. On the right is a mid-20th century monstrance. On the left is a mid-to-late 19th century, Gothic monstrance. COURTESY OF ARCHIVES

God blesses Catholic High with historic monstrance

BY EDWARD WILSON, ARCHIVES

A woman once called the archives looking for genealogical information. When I answered the phone, I introduced myself and the archive. Her immediate response was “Oooh, ‘Edward,’ that is an old name. It sounds like you should work in an archive.” When people need to find something and that something is old, they come to us. Whether it is sacramental or genealogical information, relics, missals, whatever old thing they need, we are likely their best bet.

So, when we heard Owensboro Catholic High School was looking for a new monstrance, we knew that the archives could find one with a connection to the community. 

One day I, along with the Ursuline congregational leader, Sr. Amelia Stenger, and two members of the MSJ finance department, Martha and Ashley, were clearing out the Mount’s retreat center. While sorting some boxes a monstrance was uncovered. We knew immediately where this was to go. However, when God gives, he gives in abundance, and immediately another even more elaborate and beautiful monstrance was revealed. The first monstrance appears to be from the mid-20th century. It is of a style that is much more familiar to the postconciliar Church. It has a radiant design, and a motif of grapevines surrounds the viewing lens. The second monstrance was made in France, likely around the mid-to-late 19th century. It is of a Gothic design. Its multi-tiered structure with pointed spires reaching skyward evokes imagery of a Gothic European cathedral. Figures of Sts. Peter and Paul stand vigilantly beside the ruby flanked viewing window, with a figure of the Sacred Heart standing above.

Finding the monstrances could not have come at a better time. We have been graced with these monstrances following the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ call for a Eucharistic revival to help us grow in deeper love and knowledge of the Real Presence. What better time is there to spend in adoration of Our Lord?

Photographs of the newly found monstrances were sent to the religion department at Catholic High and the second monstrance was selected.

We live in a world where our high schoolers are adoring the Eucharist to a degree that God is showering monstrances upon us at a mention. Have strength and peace; Christ is with us always until the end of the age. 

Edward Wilson is the director of the Diocese of Owensboro’s Archives and the Archives of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph. Comments and questions may be sent to edward.wilson@pastoral.org.


Originally printed in the April 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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