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St. Leo Shop and St. Leo League Records, Ade Bethune Papers

Identifier: ABC-07-STL


The St. Leo Collection contains information about the St. Leo Shop (SLS) and the St. Leo League (SLL).

The St. Leo Shop Records include business and administrative records, customer and vendor correspondence, catalogs, publicity materials, production materials and copies of the St. Leo Catalog and St. Leo Bulletin, original art, materials on Montessori education and all other publications or items produced for or sold in the St. Leo Shop. Materials span the years between 1938 and 1985, and the bulk of the collection is from 1957- 1983.

The St. Leo League collection includes administrative records and information regarding meetings and memberships, correspondence, information related to the publications Sacred Signs and The Icon, and instructions for funerals. Materials span the years between 1961 and 1982/3.


  • 1938 - 1985
  • Majority of material found within 1957 - 1983



Ade Bethune was born in Brussels, Belgium on January 12, 1914. In 1928 her family immigrated to the United States, settling in New York. It was there that the young Bethune met Dorothy Day in 1934 and became involved with the Catholic Worker movement, a relationship that was to have a profound effect on her development as an artist. She produced a great deal of original art for the Catholic Worker, and many of her designs were reproduced as thank-you cards or Christmas cards for Catholic Worker readers. The demand for these cards led Bethune to set up an independent mail-order business, which led in turn to the formation of the St. Leo Shop as an outlet for distributing her work as well as other high-quality religious artwork and goods.

Bethune was heavily involved in the day to day operation of the shop, even as she simultaneously carried out many other substantial projects and artistic commissions throughout her life. The business was originally located in her house but eventually expanded in the 1950s to include a number of employees and the importation of goods from around the world; in 1964 it moved to its own location across the street from Bethune's home. At its height, the shop sold a wide variety of goods including: cards for religious occasions, icons, calendars, embroidery kits, metalwork, lace and holiday items. It also carried a variety of liturgical publications and became the main North American outlet for Maria Montessori’s books on education. Bethune published a yearly catalog that from 1957 onwards became the St. Leo Bulletin, a publication that included articles by her and other writers on sacred and liturgical arts.

Ade Bethune’s vision of artistic integrity and simplicity was the guiding principle of the St. Leo Shop. More than just a retail enterprise, the shop served as an outlet for her many ideas on Catholicism, iconography, and religious art and design. These ideas found further fruition in the formation of the St. Leo League in 1961. Originally conceived to celebrate the anniversary of the death of St. Leo, the group met once a month to discuss issues in liturgical art and to publish Sacred Signs, a quarterly publication on liturgical arts. The sporadic publication of Sacred Signs ceased in the early 1980s, about the same time that Bethune closed the St. Leo Shop and began to distribute her work through other outlets, including Terra Sancta Guild in Pennsylvania and Blue Cloud Abbey in South Dakota.

Ade Bethune died in Newport, RI, on May 1, 2002.


22.5 Linear Feet (54 boxes)

Language of Materials



Includes business records, correspondence, publications, writing and art related to Ade Bethune’s religious goods business, the St. Leo Shop, and to the St. Leo League organization.


The collection is divided into two parts, St. Leo Shop and St. Leo League. The St. Leo Shop Records are grouped into 5 series, while the St. Leo League materials are in 3 series. Arrangement varies by series.

Missing Title

  1. Series 1: Art
  2. Series 2: Writing
  3. Series 3: Correspondence

Missing Title


Missing Title

  1. Series 4: Business

Missing Title


Missing Title

  1. Series 5: Publications

Missing Title

  1. Series 6: Operations
  2. Series 7: Funerals
  3. Series 8: Sacred Signs


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 during fall semester 2006, and the finding aid written by Amanda Eggers, MLIS graduate assistant, in Nov.-Dec. 2006 and May 2007.


Guide to the St. Leo Shop and St. Leo League Records Ade Bethune Papers
Amanda Eggers, MLIS Graduate Assistant
May 2007
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.