Extreme Recycling

Bomb vase from Belgium.
Bomb vase from Belgium.

These days recycling and reusing are top priority on everyone’s list. But in 1918 Sisters in the motherhouse in Namur, Belgium, recycling to the extreme when they turned spent WWI shell casings into vases. (It is believed the shells were lobbed at the motherhouse during the Allied retaking of Belgium in 1918. The Sisters, relieved at God’s providence, kept the deactivated shells as a graphic reminder but soon decided to turn them into something useful.)

The 20″ heavy hammered vases with fluted tops made their way across the Atlantic Ocean with Mere Maria Julienne during the winter of 1920-1921 as gifts for the then three U.S. provinces: Boston, Ohio and California. (No Sister ever visits without bringing gifts!)

Displayed in Notre Dame de Namur University’s Ralston Hall before its restoration, the vase was used by Sr. Patricia McGlinn as a visual aid in teaching about WWI in her college history classes. The vase now resides in the Sisters’ California  Archives.