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Archival description
University of St. Michael's College, John M. Kelly Library, Special Collections
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Henri Nouwen fonds

  • CA ON00389 F4
  • Fonds
  • 1910 - 1997, 1964 - 1996 predominant

Fonds consists of 15 series:

  1. Manuscripts
  2. General files
  3. Calendar files
  4. Personal records
  5. Publisher files
  6. Financial files
  7. Teaching materials
  8. Nouwen’s education records and study notes
  9. Published works
  10. Video recordings of Nouwen
  11. Sound recordings
  12. Collected materials
  13. L'Arche Daybreak administrative files
  14. Ephemera and artifacts
  15. Photographs

Nouwen, Henri J.M.

Haitian tapestry file

File consists of a letter from Barbara Vajk as well as a Haitian tapestry and educational information pertaining to the tapestry that Vajk sent Nouwen as a gift.

Administrative resources files

Series consists of administrative resources files which were maintained for Nouwen by Nouwen's administrative staffs from 1983 to 1997. These files contain materials collected by Nouwen in order to assist him with his roles as pastor, writer, researcher, and friend. In addition to subject-based material such as newspaper clippings and brochures, it is evident that Nouwen's administrative assistants at Daybreak used these files to hold administrative material related to liturgical events such as Christmas, Lent, and Easter, as well as other aspects of Nouwen's duties in the community. These files were likely maintained as a resource for Nouwen regarding his daily work.

The titles of the files are taken directly from the file labels created by Nouwen and his administrative assistants, unless otherwise noted. The files are arranged by subject or topic (such as Latin America, Vincent van Gogh, or Abbey of the Genesee), are in alphabetical order, and materials within the files have been maintained chronologically. Many of the materials have been placed in this series because they contain annotations, either by Nouwen or an assistant, saying "File" with the subject or name or "File - Resource files."

Army socks

Item consists of one pair of olive green socks that were part of Henri Nouwen's military uniform. There is a label with 'Nouwen' sewed onto each sock.

Sailor doll

Item consists of one sailor doll with a hat with the label, "Holland-America Line". Henri Nouwen likely collected this doll while on contract as the chaplain for the Holland America Line in 1962. The doll has a soft body and a hard plastic head. The face is painted on.

Clerical collars

Item consists of six clerical collars, all used by Henri Nouwen.

String doll

Item consists of one doll made of rope. Red string is wound around each leg and arm, and green string is wound around the middle to create a waist. Green string also attaches the arms to the body. The head is a brown wooden ball. Around its neck is a yellow scarp, and the doll is wearing a brown felt hat. This item is possibly from Nouwen's time in Powhatan, Louisiana.

Wooden sculpture

Item consists of one wooden sculpture, all carved from one block of dark wood. The bottom of the wood features the carved inscription 'The Remnant' and possibly a signature of the artist. The sculpture features a seated figure with its legs pulled to its chest, and one arm wrapped around the body. The other arm is resting on the floor, with its palm facing upward and cupped. The figure is sanded smooth with a finish, while the base is left rough.

Painted angel ornament

Item consists of one painted wooden angel. It has many colours. The angel is blowing a horn. Label on the back indicates that the angel was purchased in El Salvador for $15.99.

Virgin Mary statuette

Item consists of one cream-coloured, porcelain statuette featuring the figure of the Virgin Mary praying. Statuette is approximately 19.5 cm tall. This object was a gift to Nouwen from the Flying Rodleighs. Bottom of the figure has inscription, in pen, "To: Henri. With love from the Flying Rodleighs."

Clay sculpture

Item consists of one small clay sculpture, possibly made by a member of L'Arche Daybreak. The sculpture features Nouwen with his arms around a child, whose hand is reaching towards Nouwen's open mouth. The Nouwen figure has a blue-gray glaze paint for clothing, and has glasses carved on his face.

Hinged wooden book stand

Item consists of one hinged wooden book stand that can collapse to be flat. The book stand is carved and features carved maple leaves.

Crucifix pendant

Item consists of one small metal pendant. On the front is a crucifix, with engraved figures behind Jesus, and angels above His head. The verso lists the name "Assisi" and has an engraved phrase in Latin, likely a prayer.

Commemorative coin

Item consists of one commemorative coin. The front of the coin features a raised profile of Pope Paul VI, and the Latin of his name: "Paulus VI. Pont. Max" The verso of the coin reads "Anno santo 1975. Roma" and a raise depiction of two saints and a doorway. Nouwen likely got this coin while he was in Rome.

Place mat

Item consists of one turquoise woven place mat.

Plaster sculpture

Item consists of one glazed plaster sculpture of a hand with "Michael Barret 1991" carved on bottom. Sculpture is glazed with white paint with blue and purple swatches.

Wooden acrobat toy

Item consists of one painted wooden acrobat toy on a wooden stand given to Nouwen by Joseph and Brad for Christmas. There is a handwritten note from Joseph and Brad on the wooden stand.

Noah's Ark musical ornament

Item consists of one Noah's Ark musical ornament with "Adam Arnett, Nov. 17-1961 - Feb. 13-1996" inscribed on bottom. The song played is "It's a Small World".

Engraved wooden box

Item consists of one engraved wooden box. The engraving is a pattern of squares with triangles.

Napkin ring

Item consists of one wooden napkin ring. The napkin ring is painted and features an outdoor scene with "Henri Nouwen" painted in yellow paint.

Two briefcases

File consists of two suitcases, one brown (E118) and one black (E119) with a combination lock, owned by Nouwen in the course of his life.

Coasters

Item consists of one set of coasters. The initials "H.N." are embossed on the coasters in gold ink.

Personal effects

Sub-series consists of non-religious objects belonging to Henri Nouwen, which were not a part of the collected materials from his office. Includes: personal effects including his car keys, army uniform, and suitcases; and ornaments and crafts.

Car keys and other keys

File consists of keys that were used by Henri Nouwen. This includes a set of keys for Nouwen's 1990 Honda, one set for an unidentified car, a Honda key attached to a ring with a wooden tag labelled "Cambridge" and other miscellaneous keys.

Army uniform

Item consists of Nouwen's army uniform from when he served as army chaplain for the Dutch Army between 1957 and 1963.

Box 372 contains:

  • jacket
  • pants
  • 2 ties
  • hat
  • belt
  • handkerchief
  • raincoat
  • scarf
  • clerical collar

Box 373 contains:

  • wool coat
  • trench coat
  • dog tag
  • gloves
  • collar insignias

Box 374: includes a second army uniform, which likely belonged to an unknown family member of Nouwen's. There is a label stapled to the left sleeve of the jacket which reads "H.P.M. Nouwen. H.P.T.". It is unknown exactly how Nouwen was related to this person.

Wooden tabernacle

Item consists of one wooden tabernacle. The item has two doors in the front, which lock [key included]. The tabernacle would have been used to store the Eucharist.

Gold chalice

Item consists of one gold chalice and its matching paten, as well as a small spoon (used to give the Eucharist to those who could not receive it otherwise). The chalice base features a small crucifix, as well as other decorative engravings of grapes and grape leaves, and a few diamonds that belonged to Nouwen's maternal grandmother. The bottom of the chalice is engraved with a Latin phrase, "Ego sum vites, vox palmites" ["I am the vine, you are the branches"], as well as the name of Reverend Antonius Cornelis Ramselaar, Nouwen's uncle. The chalice was Ramselaar's, and it was given to Nouwen on the occasion of his ordination in 1957. The chalice and paten have a leather carrying case, and they are wrapped in blue velvet.

Pink drawstring bag

Item consists of one pink cloth drawstring bag with colourful embroidery and a yellow drawstring. This is a religious artifact, as the bag has a large decorative cross embroidered on it. There is also a woven cross, from red string, located inside, as well as two small linen cloths (called purificators) with a cross on them.

Two icons

File consists of two icons. Icons are:
E138: Possibly from the Ukraine or Russia, in a plastic silver frame. Print of a saint holding a large wooden cross and wearing purple and red robes, as well as a crown. Text next to the figure is in Russian.
E139: Print of "the Savior of Zvenigorod" affixed to wooden base. This print is likely a copy of a fresco or painting, as parts of the artwork are missing.

Glass chalices and paten

File consists of two clear glass chalices, and one clear glass paten. One of the chalices is slightly larger than the other. These chalices were used by Nouwen while he was a priest at L'Arche Daybreak. The cups were made by a glassblower in Vermont, Simon Pearce. Nouwen liked the clear glass because the wine could be seen, and many people could drink from them. He wrote, in Can You Drink the Cup, "These glass cups speak about a new way of being a priest and a new way of being human."

Glass chalice

Item consists of one clear glass chalice. Chalice is approximately 12 cm in diameter, and 26 cm tall. It is slightly larger than E144. Chalice is very simple, but the node on this chalice is slightly decorative with a crimped pattern. Nouwen used this chalice for the Eucharist while he was a priest at L'Arche Daybreak.

Glass paten

Item consists of one clear glass paten. The plate of the paten is 22 cm in diameter, and the paten is approximately 9.5 cm tall, while the base is 9 cm in diameter. It is very simple in design. Nouwen used this paten to give the Eucharist while a priest at L'Arche Daybreak.

Glass chalice

Item consists of one clear glass chalice. Chalice is approximately 12 cm in diameter, and 23 cm tall. Chalice is very simple, with a small node and simple base. Nouwen used this chalice to give the Eucharist while he was a priest at L'Arche Daybreak.

Wooden crucifix

Item consists of one large wooden crucifix. The figure of Jesus is intricately carved. According to an email from Sue Mosteller and Joe Child, in which Joe tells what he remembers of the figure: "The story I remember is that there was an old priest at Freiburg University who was an old friend of Henry's. Either before or after he died, he gave Henry the cross, and it came from a church in WWII, and the cross was all he recovered from the bombed out building. Henry brought it back and showed it to me and asked if I would mount it on a cross. I made a cross, and then gave it a high gloss finish. This accentuated the figure, which was a carved figure of Christ, and there was no finish on it, so it contrasted well with the finish on the cross. Henry liked it, and was around the old chapel for a long time. That is about all I can remember."

Stoles

File consists of one variegated magenta wool stole with large tassels, one multi-coloured stole made from woven cotton possibly made in Central or South America, and one blended red woolen stole.

Magenta stole

Item consists of one variegated magenta wool stole with large magenta tassels. There are other colours, including red and orange, in the design of the stole.

Vessels

File consists of one sick call kit in a leather case, which includes three holy oil stocks, one holy water pocket sprinklers, and one pyx.

Brown rosary beads

Item consists of one set of rosary beads. The beads are brown, and the string underneath is a cream colour. The end of the rosary features a wooden and metal crucifix (the cross is wooden, and Jesus is metal).

Multi-coloured stole

Item consists of one multi-coloured stole made from woven cotton, possibly made in Central or South America. There are woven crosses in the pattern. The tassels are blue.

Red stole

Item consists of one blended red woolen stole. The colours in the stole are red and a muted pink.

Rosary beads

File consists of three sets of rosary beads, one made of black beads with a metal cross; one made with brown beads with a wooden cross and one made with brown beads and a wooden cross with a carving of Jesus.

Wooden rosary

Item consists of one set of rosary beads. These beads are wooden, brown, and include a wooden cross with a carving of Jesus.

Black rosary bead

Item consists of one set of rosary beads. The beads are black and include a metal icon of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus (back of the icon features a depiction of adult Jesus).

Religious artifacts

Sub-series consists of religious artifacts owned by Henri Nouwen but not a part of the collected materials from his office, including psalms and prayers, rosary beads, stoles, vessels, large wooden crucifix, a tabernacle, and a gold chalice.

Blue box

Item consists of one blue plastic case for holding papers. Nouwen used this case for his L'Arche Journal, kept from 1985 to 1986.

Dolby stereo

Item consists of one stereo system. This was Henri Nouwen's Dolby System 4 speaker system and manual recording system. Sue Mosteller says that this is the player that Nouwen used to play all of his cassettes.

Wooden nativity set

Item consists of one nativity set. There are fourteen pieces depicting the Wise Men, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and some animals. These pieces are made of wood and are painted.

Ceramic ornament of St. Francis of Assisi and wolf

Item consists of a painted sculpture of St. Francis of Assisi with a wolf. He is wearing the brown garb of a Franciscan monk. He has his arms around the wolf, and the wolf is looking up at him. The bottom of the sculpture is covered in green felt and features a sticker with the letters "LBI".

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