A handful of new Catholic home businesses have cropped up lately that allow their owners to create products that promote prayer and devotion to the saints. Here is a look at three businesses that give their owners a creative outlet while spreading the Good News.
Tracy L. Christianson is a self-taught artist who had a successful career in the fashion industry as a designer and illustrator for an outerwear company. However, it had long been her passion to create art that honored Christ and his saints.
“We started our small, family-owned business to create and make available artwork of Our Lord, his mother, Mary, and his angels and saints (and) to inspire, make known and bring devotion to the heavenly court,” Christianson, co-creator of Portraits of Saints, told Our Sunday Visitor. “I prayed and trusted that God would allow me to start my own art business. My sister and co-owner of Portraits of Saints, Dixie Foster, backed me all the way, and we’ve been pretty successful since we started in 2012.”
Foster does the woodworking for the business: making the plaques, holy water fonts and crucifixes that feature her sister’s art. She told OSV that she learned woodworking skills from watching her grandfather and father, both of whom were carpenters.
The two sisters said they enjoy the creativity of the business.
“We want to bring the knowledge of the saints to everyone because their lives are amazing,” Christianson said. “They’re good role models, and their lives are fascinating. Take St. Denis for example, who was beheaded. He is reputed to have walked for 6 miles preaching with his head clutched in his hands.”
Before she begins drawing a saint, Christianson does historical research and studies other works of art to determine what symbol is traditionally used to depict him or her. She draws with colored pencils from photographs she has taken of models. However, she never uses a model for Our Lady, but rather relies on divine assistance.
“Hopefully our art will inspire people to turn to the saints and to pray more,” Christianson said. “I hope that people will buy my prints not because they’re beautiful pictures, but for the patronage of the saint.”
The goal of Elise Faurote’s business, ModHMary (short for Modern Holy Mary), “is to put believing and faith back into fashion.”
|ModHMary founder Elise Faurote sells her prayer cards on Etsy.com Courtesy photo
Faurote, of Rochester, Mich., sells her handmade rosaries made from vintage beads and religious prayer cards reminiscent of Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha on Etsy.com. A graduate of College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Faurote started designing and selling her stylistic prayer cards as a creative outlet. She also wanted to update the look of prayer cards to attract younger people to the Faith.
“I have always had an affinity toward prayer cards because of their long history,” she said. “People carried these cards with them everywhere, and they meant a lot to them. It seems like this has been lost. I wanted to revive that interest especially among young people.”
While encouraging others to invoke the Holy Mother and the saints for intercession through her custom prayer cards, she said her art has also had a positive impact on her own prayer life.
“I think creating the prayer cards has been my nudge from above for me to pray more,” Faurote said. “In the past, I had a difficult time with prayer; it felt foreign and uncomfortable. But making and doing the extensive research on the saints for the cards has changed that for me.”
|Prayer Pockets was started by three Louisiana women. Courtesy photo
In addition, Faurote makes rosaries and Catholic-inspired jewelry for ModHMary from antique beads that she finds at flea markets, antiques shops and church sales. She said the quality and the uniqueness of vintage beads surpass modern beads. Her children, ages 7 and 9, enjoy helping her sort the beads.
Ann Beckemeyer, Mary Diehl and Charlene Ryan sew and sell Prayer Pockets — a decorated cloth pocket that they fill with 20 Catholic prayers cards — in an effort to get people to pray more.
“For some, it’s getting them started in the first place; for others, it’s exposing them once again to prayers that were said long ago, but had been forgotten,” Beckemeyer told OSV.
The three started their business in 2010 after Beckemeyer was laid off from her job. She and Ryan sew the Prayer Pockets while Diehl, who is Beckemeyer’s sister, embellishes the pockets and chooses the prayer cards. The three have a shop in Metairie, La. However, their Prayer Pockets are primarily sold at craft fairs and over the phone. They also sell the prayer pockets on Etsy.com.
The bulk of their business comes from custom orders for the most important times in the life of a Catholic: baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals. Beckemeyer said those orders are sewn on a $100-sewing machine she bought after she and her husband lost everything in Hurricane Katrina.
The women said that they have met so many wonderful people through this ministry who have thanked them for making Prayer Pockets.
Diehl added that making the pockets has been a special bonding experience between them and their families.
“We have spent countless days and nights enjoying each others’ company while hard at work sewing, pinning medals, adding tags, and packaging the pockets.”
Beckemeyer added that they also pray for the people who place the orders — particularly when their customers ask them to remember a particular intention. That intention is written on a spreadsheet and shared between the three of them.
“I do get a strong sense of satisfaction when I send a Prayer Pocket to someone who is sick or stressed about something,” Ryan said. “I feel like I’m also giving them the gift of knowing that I am praying for them.”
Lori Hadacek Chaplin writes from Idaho.