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Writings, Ade Bethune Papers

Identifier: ABC-03-WR


The collection includes about 100 published articles in both rough draft and printed forms. There are about 17 booklets or books in various forms of draft and print as well as roughly 44 unpublished articles or notes. There is also correspondence with various editors and publishers about Bethune's work. Materials span the years from 1933 to 1998 with the bulk of the collection dating from the 1940s to 1960s. Bethune published articles in about 37 different journals, with most being in Orate Fratres, Liturgical Arts, and Catholic Art Quarterly.

Many of the journals changed names over the years. Orate Fratres was renamed Worship in 1952. Church Property Administration was later called Catholic Property Administration, and finally renamed The Catholic Market. Christian Social Art Quarterly was renamed Catholic Art Quarterly in 1941 and finally called Good Work in 1959.


  • 1935 - 2000
  • Majority of material found within 1940 - 1969


About Ade Bethune

Ade Bethune was born in the Schaerbeek district of Brussels on January 12, 1914. A few months after her birth, her father left for WWI while the rest of the family continued to live with her mother’s father. Bethune did not see her father for over four years and did not know him when he returned. Also during the war, her mother was arrested for underground work and was in jail for about a month. In 1928, the family immigrated to New York, where Bethune attended Cathedral High School in New York City and the National Academy of Design as well. During this period she became interested in the Catholic Worker Movement and met Dorothy Day, a lasting influence on her life.

Bethune loved writing stories as a young girl. In 1933, her first article was published in Stained Glass. Titled “A Dream Come True,” it described how she learned stained glass techniques from Charles J. Connick in Boston. She also tried to publish a couple of children’s books in the early 1930s. One, “Mademoiselle Boshapo,” was based on a story she’d written as a child. In the mid-1930s, Maurice Lavanoux, the editor of Liturgical Arts, invited her to write for this journal. He had been the editor of Stained Glass when Bethune's article was published there. Graham Carey drew her into activities of the Catholic Art Association, publisher of Catholic Art Quarterly. In 1938, she began to publish in Orate Fratres, the herald of the Liturgical Movement. Although Bethune published in many journals, she published most often in these three.

In 1948, Bethune agreed to volunteer as the editor of Catholic Art Quarterly. At first, there was some controversy because she wasn’t a priest and might allow heresies to be published. She used this position as a forum to explore her own vocation as a Christian Artist. She was editor from 1949 to 1950. During this time, the journal won a graphic design award from the American Institute of Graphic Arts in 1951 for the Easter 1950 issue.

Bethune began writing about church architecture in 1954 with the article “Font and Altar” for Catholic Art Quarterly. She also published a series of five articles in Church Property Administration on the need for church architecture to support the liturgy: "Celebrating the Mass Facing the People," 1955; "The Church as Mother in Architecture," 1956; "Planning the Church Sanctuary," 1958; "Altar and Tabernacle in a People-Minded Age," 1959; "The Central Altar and the Church in the Round," 1962; and "The Place of the Tabernacle," 1966. These articles were widely reprinted and, while most of them were published many years prior to the Second Vatican Council, they foreshadowed some of the changes brought about by it.

Her many articles on the subject of church architecture became very influential and earned Bethune a reputation as one of the few liturgical consultants in the country with a wide range of expertise. Some other articles she wrote on the subject are: “Philippine Adventure,” 1951; “Can You Make Walls Speak?,” 1955; “Acoustics, Light and Seating for the People’s Participation in the Mass,” 1962; and “Some Plans on Renovating the Sanctuary for the Renewed Liturgy,” 1965. These were all published in Liturgical Arts.

Bethune's classic is the booklet Work, first published in 1939. It was part of a series of pamphlets published by John Stevens University and went through at least four printings. In it, she distilled her philosophy of work into a love of work and doing things well. One of her favorite efforts was Uniscript, published in 1964. This booklet on teaching handwriting grew from Bethune's interest in the history of the alphabet as well as the Montessori teaching methods.

Bethune died in her long time home of Newport, Rhode Island on May 1, 2002.


10.5 Linear Feet (23 boxes)

Language of Materials



Includes both published and unpublished manuscripts, articles and booklets by Ade Bethune on a variety of subjects, mainly church related, as well as correspondence with various publishers.


The collection is organized into four series. Each series is arranged alphabetically.

Missing Title

  1. Series 1: Published Writings

Missing Title

Books and Booklets


Ade Bethune donated her personal and business papers, sketches, artwork, books, and artifacts to the College of St Catherine (now St. Catherine University) over the period from 1984-2002.

Processing Information

The collection was processed and the finding aid written by Elizabeth Nelson, MLIS graduate assistant, from September to December 2007.


Guide to Writings in the Ade Bethune Papers
Elizabeth Nelson, MLIS Graduate Student
April 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the St. Catherine University Special Collections Repository

St. Catherine University
Archives and Special Collections
2004 Randolph Avenue
St. Paul MN 55105 U.S.A.