Object of the Week: “Madonna of the Rosary” by Lucas Vorsterman the Elder

Lucas Vorsterman the Elder
Madonna of the Rosary (after Caravaggio)
22” H x 16.5” W
early 17th century
Image courtesy of the Walsh Gallery



This engraving by Lucas Vorsterman the Elder is after an original painting by Caravaggio.  Though we do not know the patron of this work, art historians believe Caravaggio’s painting was part of an altarpiece created for a Dominican church – inferred by the presence of Saint Dominic – shown on the right holding rosaries in his outstretched hands.  It is thought the figure peering from beneath Saint Dominic’s robes is the patron who commissioned this work given his eye contact with the viewer and proximity to the saint and the Virgin Mary.[1]

The month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary. According to an account by fifteenth-century Dominican, Alan de la Roche, Mary appeared to Saint Dominic in 1206 after praying.  She gave Saint Dominic the Rosary, explained its uses and significance, and told him to preach it to others.[2]  The Rosary consists of prayer and meditations on the life of Christ using rosary beads as an aid.  Catholics pray the rosary to ask God for a special favor, such as helping a loved one recover from an illness, or to thank God for blessings received.[3]

The rosary has 59 beads, a crucifix, and a medal, with certain prayers for each of the pieces. The prayers of the rosary can be divided into three categories: Introductory Prayers, The Decades and Closing Prayers.[4]  The prayers that compose the rosary are arranged in sets of ten “Hail Mary” prayers. Each set of ten, or decade, is preceded by one “Lord’s Prayer” (“Our Father”) and traditionally followed by one “Glory Be.”  During the recitation of each set, thought is given to one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which recall events in the lives of Jesus and of Mary. Five decades are recited per rosary.[5]

The term rosary is derived from the Latin word rosarium or rose garden and the rose is the symbol of the Virgin Mary.The earliest documented use of the term rosary dates back to 1597[6], though the story of Saint Dominic tells us the word likely appeared much earlier in time.  Rosary beads are made from a variety of materials.  These include ordinary ones such as plastic, rope or wood, or more expensive materials such as gemstones or precious metals.  The tradition of using beads to pray spans across many faiths and cultures.  Hindus, Greeks, Buddhists and numerous other peoples use beads to pray.  Interestingly enough, the word bead in English is derived from an Old English word that means prayer.[7]

Rosary with made of red plastic beads and a metal chain and crucifix, Collection on Pope John Paul II (MSS 0004)
Rosary, Collection on Pope John Paul II (MSS 0004)



The Walsh Gallery has a considerable collection of fine art, artifacts and archeological specimens. For access to this or objects in our collections, complete this research request form to set up an appointment. 


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madonna_of_the_Rosary_(Caravaggio)  accessed 10/7/2020

[2] https://www.livingbreadradio.com/2015/09/october-the-month-of-the-holy-rosary/ accessed 10/7/2020

[3] https://m.theholyrosary.org/  accessed 10/7/2020

[4] https://dynamiccatholic.com/rosary/how-to-pray-the-rosary accessed 10/7/2020

[5] https://m.theholyrosary.org/  accessed 10/7/2020

[6] https://dynamiccatholic.com/rosary/history-of-the-rosary accessed 10/7/2020

[7] https://dynamiccatholic.com/rosary/history-of-the-rosary accessed 10/7/2020


Object of the Week: Medal Commemorating the Opening of the Second Vatican Council

Vatican II opening commemorative medal
Features image of Pope John XXIII
Gift of Dr. Peter Ahr





Informally known as Vatican II or the Second Vatican Council, The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, was formally opened 58 years ago on October 11, 1962 under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII.[1]  Vatican II addressed relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world – establishing a strong emphasis on ecumenism (promoting union between religions), a revised liturgy and new approaches to Catholic engagement with the world.[2]  Sessions were held annually among Bishops over the course of the four years, concluding under the pontificate of Pope Paul VI on December 8, 1965, ushering in an era of numerous liturgical, spiritual and lay movements.[3] 

News clipping titled, "Committee on Canon Law Appointed by Pope John"
“Committee on Canon Law Appointed by Pope John,” unattributed newsclipping, 1950’s, John M. Oesterreicher papers, Mss 0053, Courtesy of the Monsignor Field Archives and Special Collections Center
Image of Archbishop Thomas Boland, c. 1960s
Archbishop Thomas Boland, c. 1960s

The Department of Archives and Special Collections and the Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University hold a vast array of manuscripts, photographs, documents, news clippings, artifacts and materials related to Vatican II that illuminate this propitious moment in history.  Some of the most comprehensive collections on the Council held by Seton Hall University include archival materials related to the church leaders that served on the council and in the Seton Hall University community, including Monsignor John

Black and white image of Bishop John Joseph Dougherty seated, c. 1960s
Bishop John Joseph Dougherty, c. 1960s

M. Oesterreicher, Bishop John Joseph Dougherty – at the time of Vatican II an Auxiliary Bishop of Newark and former president of Seton Hall University – and materials related to Archbishop Thomas Boland.[4]  Selected issues of the Catholic Advocate, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Newark, have been digitized and are also available for in person research or online at the Catholic News Archive.


Newspaper clipping from The Catholic Advocate titled “Monsignor Oesterreicher Presents Copy of ‘The Bridge’ to Pope.”
“Monsignor Oesterreicher Presents Copy of ‘The Bridge’ to Pope,” The Catholic Advocate, September 22, 1960, pg. 1 digitized Vatican II (1958-1964) editions of the Catholic Advocate courtesy of the Catholic News Archive.




The images and materials shown here are but a small part of the vast patrimony available to students, faculty and researchers.  For more information or to make an appointment, contact 973-761-9476 or archives@shu.edu


[1] https://www.shu.edu/news/documents-of-vatican-ii.cfm accessed 10/2/2020

[2] https://www.catholicregister.org/features/item/15194-what-changed-at-vatican-ii  accessed 10/1/2020

[3] https://www.shu.edu/news/documents-of-vatican-ii.cfm accessed 10/2/2020

[4] https://blogs.shu.edu/archives/tag/oesterreicher/ accessed 10/5/2020


Object of the Week – Portrait of Monsignor John A. Stafford, S.T.L.



Monsignor John A. Stafford, S.T.L., was the eighth President of Seton Hall College from 1899 to 1907, presiding over the college’s Golden Anniversary in 1906.  At the dawn of the new century, Monsignor Stafford oversaw a number of advances on our campus including the construction of a School Infirmary and a residence for the Sisters of Charity, which helped run campus operations at the time.[i]  The order was founded in the tradition of Seton Hall University’s namesake, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, and the sisterhood, which still operates today from Convent Station in Morris County, New Jersey, advocates for human rights, peace and non-violence, while promoting systemic change.  In addition to putting his support behind health and humanitarian causes, Monsignor Stafford’s tenure also saw the first inter-collegiate basketball team in 1903 and inaugurated the construction of the college’s first permanent baseball diamond just two years later.[ii]

Monsignor John A. Stafford studied classics at St. John’s in Pennsylvania and later, at Seton Hall College.  He continued his studies at the seminary at Pontifical North American College in Rome in 1882.  Six years later, he was ordained and entered the priesthood on April 8, 1888.  On returning to the United States, he served in various New Jersey parishes and was later appointed as Vice President of Seton Hall College in 1893 under Father Marshall’s administration.  In 1897 he was selected as rector of St. Augustine’s Church in Union Hill (Union City), New Jersey before returning to Seton Hall College in 1899 to serve as President after being appointed on May 10, 1899 by the Most Rev. Winand M. Wigger, third Bishop of Newark.[iii]  At the time, student enrollment at the college was 165.  In comparison, today’s enrollment is well over 10,000 students.[iv]

In Monsignor Stafford’s time, the campus of Seton Hall College was very different.  South Orange was still a rural area with many farms and open spaces.  In fact, there was a farm on the north side of South Orange Avenue which contained a dairy to supply food products needed on campus.  Students and professors were obligated to obey the rule of silence which forbade talking in any of the class corridors.  Saturday was no time for resting – students attended a full day of classes on that day too.  There was a less stringent side to Monsignor Stafford who was known to have a good singing voice.  There are accounts of him regaling students and faculty at a Christmas party to his renditions of “Noel,” followed by an encore of “An Old Christmas Dinner.”[v]

Map of South Orange from 1910
Map of South Orange from 1910. 2019.10.0007.

In addition to serving as the President of Seton Hall College, Monsignor Stafford was simultaneously charged with running the seminary rectory.  Monsignor Stafford, despite his busy schedule, frequently lectured in pastoral theology and liturgy.   During his term as President, a liberal arts curriculum was emphasized with “stress on the classics, history, English, mathematics, philosophy, and systematic instruction in the Catholic religion.” [vi] During his tenure as President of Seton Hall College, Father Stafford was elevated to the rank of Monsignor in 1903.

Image of the Paramount Theatre in Newark, NJ
Façade of the Paramount Theatre in Newark, NJ

The Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1906 in which Monsignor Stafford presided were filled with commemorative ceremonies and special events, including the very first commencement exercises held indoors at the nearby H.C. Miner’s Newark Theatre, which opened in 1886 as a vaudeville house.  With its elaborately decorated interior and grand façade, the theatre was an elegant setting for the graduation ceremonies. [vii]  Though its name has since changed many times and the current marquee shows its age, the old theatre still stands prominently at 195 Market Street, just steps from Seton Hall Law School in the city’s downtown business district.

Black and white photograph of Msgr. John A. Stafford, seated
Msgr. John A. Stafford

Citing health issues, Monsignor Stafford resigned in 1907 and was succeeded by Monsignor John F. Mooney as President.[viii]  Monsignor Stafford continued to serve the community after leaving Seton Hall College, becoming pastor of St. Paul of the Cross Church in Jersey City, New Jersey.  He then went to St. Patrick’s Church in Jersey City.  He died on January 21, 1913, not far from his native Paterson, New Jersey where he was born on March 13, 1857.[ix]

Monsignor Stafford’s influence can still be felt on campus today.  The portrait of Monsignor Stafford painted by A. Dies in 1904, watches over activities in President’s Hall.  The liberal arts curriculum he favored is still taught, now joined by additional courses of study in the sciences, medicine, business and diplomacy, among others.  Stafford Hall, one of three original buildings, was one of the centerpieces of the campus at the time of its completion.  Originally used as a dormitory, Stafford Hall was rebuilt in 2014 on its same location between Marshall Hall and the Immaculate Conception Seminary and School of Theology. The new building is constructed in the original neo-gothic style, but offers 21st century amenities to accommodate student and faculty needs.  This building style, drawing from the past, but equipped to support student achievement, is a metaphor for Monsignor Stafford’s leadership and service in the Catholic tradition – rooted in a rich past, while striving towards potentiality.

Historic image of the original Stafford Hall, which was a dormitory
Historic image of the original Stafford Hall Dormitory


For r access to this painting or other materials from our collections featured in previous Object of the week posts, fill out this research request form to set up a research appointment.


[i] https://www.shu.edu/president/presidents-of-seton-hall.cfm, accessed 9/21/2020

[ii] https://www.shu.edu/president/presidents-of-seton-hall.cfm, accessed 9/22/2020

[iii].https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/sites/default/files/digitallibrary/smof/publicliaison/blackwell/box-034/40_047_7007844_034_008_2017.pdf, accessed 9/23/2020

[iv] https://archivesspace-library.shu.edu/repositories/2/resources/277, accessed 9/23/2020

[v] https://www.shu.edu/president/presidents-of-seton-hall.cfm

[vi] https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/sites/default/files/digitallibrary/smof/publicliaison/blackwell/box-034/40_047_7007844_034_008_2017.pdf , accessed 9/23/2020

[vii] https://afterthefinalcurtain.net/2011/09/28/the-newark-paramount-theatre/#:~:text=The%20Paramount%20Theatre%20opened%20on,Brooklyn%20based%20theater%20Management%20Company, accessed 9/22/2020

[viii] Flynn, Joseph M. The Catholic Church in New Jersey. Morristown, NJ: 1904. Kennely, Edward F. A Historical Study of Seton Hall College. Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1944.

[ix] https://archivesspace-library.shu.edu/repositories/2/resources/277 9/23/2020

Object of the Week: Melvin Dalton Olympic Qualifying Medal and Certificate

Mel Dalton – Olympic Medal of Merit
2 3/16″ diameter
Department of Archives and Special Collections, Seton Hall University


This Olympic qualifying medal and certificate were presented to Seton Hall University alumnus, Melvin Joseph Dalton, a member of the United States Olympic Team for the 1928 Amsterdam Summer Olympics.  Dalton ranked first place at the Olympic trials on Travers Island (Pelham), New York in the steeplechase run, making him eligible to compete in the summer Olympics that same year.  In the 1928 Olympic Games, he came in seventh place in the steeplechase, a grueling 3,000-meter obstacle race in which runners jump over four hurdles and a water pit.  Dalton’s personal best in the Steeplechase event had him clocking in at 9 minutes, 33 seconds.  Three Finnish runners took the gold, silver and bronze medals: Toivo Loukola, Paavo Nurmi and Ove Anderson.  Toivo Loukola set a new world record at 9 minutes 21 seconds – 12 seconds faster than Dalton’s personal best.  The men’s 3000-meter steeplechase event at the 1928 Olympic Games took place on August 1 and August 4.

Mel Dalton – Olympic Certificate of Merit, certificate, 5 11/16” x 7 11/16”, June 17, 1928, 2020.05.0002, Department of Archives and Special Collections
Mel Dalton – Olympic Certificate of Merit, certificate, 5 11/16” x 7 11/16”, June 17, 1928, 2020.05.0002, Department of Archives and Special Collections

The Amsterdam Olympic Games of 1928 were officially known as the Games of the IX Olympiad.  These games saw the participation of 2883 athletes from 46 countries competing in 109 events.  Athletes from twenty-eight nations won gold medals, a record which would stand for forty years, and it was the first time women were allowed to compete in athletics and gymnastics events. Women would not be allowed to compete in the Olympic steeplechase event until 2008 – 80 years after Dalton’s Olympic competition.  The 1928 games also witnessed the first lighting of the Olympic flame at an opening ceremony, as well as the establishment of the protocol of Greek athletes entering the stadium first, with host nation athletes entering last.

For video footage of the 1928 Steeplechase event in which Dalton ran, click here.

A native of Newark, New Jersey, Dalton attended Seton Hall from 1925 to 1929 and was later inducted into the University’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1980.  Dalton ran track for Seton Hall as a student, and in 1925 was undefeated in all his college cross-country races and 2-miles track races. Dalton would later become a member of the priest community.

Black and white image of alumnus Melvin Dalton in his Seton Hall track uniform, in a stance so he appears ready to run
Photo of Melvin Dalton in uniform, Galleon Yearbook, Class of 1927, pg. 115


Object of the Week: Illustrated Jerusalem Bible

The Illustrated Jerusalem Bible in Hebrew and English
Published by Jerusalem Bible Publishing Co, Inc., 1958
Jerusalem – New York – London
Edited by M. Friedlander
Silver and turquoise binding
1,982 pages
Richard J. Hughes Papers, MSS #3


SHANA TOVA (Happy New Year)

At this time of year, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the two the holiest days in the Jewish faith are observed.  The observances are a blend of joy and solemnity, feasting and fasting, and prayer that make up the spiritually inspired head of the Jewish year. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a time of family gatherings and special meals.   Unlike the secular New Year in the Gregorian calendar (January 1), Rosh Hashanah is a time of judgment and remembrance, on which G-d reviews and judges a person’s deeds in the past year. It is a time of prayer and penitence.  Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) is the day of repentance, the most holy day on the Jewish calendar. Described as a Shabbat shabbaton (Shabbat of solemn rest) in the Torah, Yom Kippur is a day of fasting, prayer, and reflection. Yom Kippur is the culmination of a period of time during the month of Elul in which Jews are required to take stock of their lives, to ask forgiveness from friends and family, and to take steps toward self-improvement for the year to come.

Object of the Week: Sketch of Mother Seton Medal

Sketch for Mother Seton medal
designed by Dieges and Clust
paint and pencil on paper
14 1/2″ x 11 1/2″
c. 1969
MSS 0006
Monsignor Noe Field Archives & Special Collections Center


Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774 – 1821) was born in what would later become the United States and was canonized on September 14, 1975, making her the first American born saint.  After the death of her husband while traveling abroad in 1803, she converted to Catholicism and was received into the Catholic Church in March of 1805 at Saint Peter’s Church in New York.  Mother Seton established the first Catholic girls’ school in the United States, and later founded the first American congregation of religious sisters, the Sisters of Charity.  Her profound impact is still evidenced today by the number of institutions inspired by her work throughout the nation, especially in Maryland and New York City where she had resided.  Pope John XXIII noted at her beatification in 1963, “In a house that was very small, but with ample space for charity, she sowed a seed in America which by Divine Grace grew into a large tree.”  That tree still thrives in the continuation of her charitable work in the service of others, especially women and children.

Object of the Month: Stained Glass Panel – Chapel of the Immaculate Conception

Franz Mayer of Munich
Stained Glass Panel – Chapel of the Immaculate Conception

lead and glass
21 1/5” x 12 1/5”
Seton Hall University Archives and Special Collections

This stained glass window from the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Seton Hall University was one of six panels which were installed in 1903 when the main entrance was added to the building.  Previously there was a side entrance, which was customary at the time, and prevented wind gusts from traveling the length of the chapel in inclement weather. When building the shrine to Mother Seton around the time of her canonization in 1975, these stained glass panels were removed and replaced with the present windows showing the shields of the various orders of nuns that go back to Mother Seton.

Object of the Week: “Rabbi” by Isaac Goody

Isaac Goody
30” x 23”
Gift of Mr. Joseph Elkind

“Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is the inalienable right of every human being…. Pharaoh enslaved a whole race, and was chastised for his crime by the Divine Hand. But in thus intervening between the slave and his oppressor the Almighty fixed His canon against slavery for all time. He thereby declared that every human being has the right to the freedom which will enable him to develop to the utmost all the powers of body, of mind, of soul, with which God has endowed him; and that slavery, therefore, with its debasing effects upon the intellect and the character, is a sin against the laws of God himself.”  – Morris Joseph, Jewish Theologian, excerpt from his book, Passover: Judaism as Creed and Life

Passover is a week-long festival commemorating the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. In Hebrew, it is called Pesach, meaning “to pass over,” as God passed over the homes of Israelites during the tenth plague on the first Passover. This multicolored serigraph print in a graphic style depicts a Rabbi wearing a yarmulke and a tallit, reading from a prayer book. In the background are two rolled Torah scrolls in a Aron Kodesh, or Holy Arc.

Object of the Week: The Seton Family at their Estate in Cragdon

Alfred Booth
The Seton Family at their estate in Cragdon
Reproduction of an original albumen silver print
8” × 8 ⅞”
1866 – 1867
Courtesy of Archives and Special Collections
Mss 0074

Check out this photo of Seton family members at Cragdon, their estate located in the area tucked between the present-day Bronx neighborhoods of Wakefield and Eastchester. Going through family photos can unearth gems like one and is a great activity for your extra time at home. As you rediscover your own treasured images, there are a few things you can do to increase their longevity. Make sure you have clean, dry hands when handling photos and try not to touch the image directly but hold it from the sides and bottom. When thinking about where to store your photos, areas with temperatures between 65-70 degrees are ideal, as rooms temperature changes common in rooms such as a basement or attic can accelerate deterioration. If your photos are kept in an album, use ones with acid-free pages or polyester, polypropylene, or polyethylene sleeves and use photo corners instead of glue or tape when mounting photos. When displaying your photos, keep them out of direct sunlight to avoid fading, yellowing, and embrittlement.

Object of the Week – “The Gathering” by Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali
The Gathering
Lithographic print
23” x 27”
Gift of Mr. Joseph Elkind

Ramadan Mubarak (Blessed Ramadan)! One of the holiest months of the year for Muslims, Ramadan commemorates the month in which the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by Allah (God). Daily fasting is practiced, and it is a time of self-reflection and spiritual improvement. Ramadan is a time to strengthen one’s relationship with Allah through reading the Qur’an and prayer, as well as reinforce communal bonds through shared meals when breaking the fast and giving to the poor. This print depicting figures in white walking towards a mosque with two minarets and a gold dome is by American Muslim, sports figure, celebrity and political activist, Muhammad Ali, who joined the Nation of Islam in 1964 and later converted to Sufi Islam after a pilgrimage to Mecca in the 1970s.