Our #HiddenCatholicCollection this week features the papers of Servite Father James M. Keane, O.S.M. (1901-1975), founder of the Novena in Honor of Our Sorrowful Mothers, sponsor of a full-length film of Solemn High Mass, and host of the weekly telecast “Behold thy Mother.” Fr. Keane’s papers are 17 linear feet long plus 8 drawers in file cabinets in the Servite Provincial Archives in Chicago. It includes personal papers, correspondence, conferences and retreats, scripts and 251 records (78 rpm) of his television program. Download the finding aid here.
In January 1937, Fr. Keane started the Perpetual Novena in Honor of Our Sorrowful Mother at Our Lady of Sorrows Church (now basilica) in Chicago. In just a few weeks, thousands were coming each Friday to pray the Novena. Soon this increased to 40,000 and then to 70,000 each week, until eventually over 2000 churches and convents worldwide held Novena services. In 1941 the Novena produced a full length movie of Solemn High Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Church with commentary by Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen. Played in movie theaters throughout the US, it was part of the Novena’s effort to encourage greater participation by laity in the Mass. The film’s focus on lay participation was featured frequently in Novena Notes, the weekly publication of the Novena, and also in a pamphlet by Fr. Hugh Calkins, O.S.M., It’s Your Mass Too. The film is still available today in various formats.
After founding the Servite Order in Ireland and Australia, Fr.Keane started the bi-monthly periodical The Age of Mary, hosted the weekly telecast “Behold Thy Mother” in Chicago from 1954 to 1956, and established the Immaculate Heart Center, a Marian bookstore.
Fr. Paul Gins, O.S.M.
Servite Provincial Archives
Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica
3121 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60612-2729