Slovenian Chalice

image for Slovenian Chalice
Like many immigrants of other origins, the congregants of Holy Cross in Bridgeport, Connecticut found work during the first World War in city port and manufacturing facilities supporting the war effort. Worshipping in their church, newly built in 1915, they remembered small centuries-old chapels left behind in the mountains of their native villages. During services, thoughts naturally turned to the uncertain destiny of friends and family left behind and the national identity those people would assume at the conclusion of the war. Whatever the outcome, they continued to celebrate the Eucharist as they had learned in childhood, sharing wine out of this cup as they heard intonement from their priest in their native Slavic language the instructions of Jesus to his disciples: “Drink of it, all of you: for this is my blood of covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”(Matthew, ch. 26, v. 28).
There was much to forgive: misunderstanding of immigration officials and census takers who identified them as “Austrians,” general prejudice of Americans against new coworkers of Slavic descent, being forced to speak German to foremen from similar national origins, and later offspring not attending Slovenian-language services because they only knew English and had moved out to the suburbs. This chalice was rescued, with painted plaster wall murals, from the church before it was destroyed by urban renewal in 1972. A new Holy Cross was built in neighboring Fairfield, Connecticut with services offered in English.
But for members of the older generation, memories remained of the old church and of Catholic fraternal meetings which provided financial, educational, and emotional support and lessons in democratic responsibility which would propel some to future political leadership in the city and beyond.
Currently not on view
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Holy Cross Church
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Cultural and Community Life: Religion
Cultures & Communities
Artifact Walls exhibit
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gold (overall material)
plating (overall production method/technique)
chalice: 8 1/2 in x 4 5/8 in; 21.59 cm x 11.684 cm
National Museum of American History
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