Ash Wednesday


Bradley & Hubbard Ecclesiastical Bookends with Quotes by Saint John and Saint John Cardinal Newman (LEO Design)


Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the period of prayer, fasting and abstinence during which Christians prepare themselves for Easter, the greatest holiday in the Christian calendar.  Lent is forty days long—not counting Sundays—and corresponds to the forty days Jesus spent facing-down temptation in the desert.  Many Christian denominations, most prominently Catholics, hold special services on Ash Wednesday during which a cross of ash is imposed on the penitent's forehead while the priest or lay minister reminds him or her, "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return."  This black smudge is not only a humbling reminder of one's mortality, it is a reminder that one has been created, by God, from the Earth—and that one's body will one day return to that Earth.  I like the fact that this ancient understanding of the lifecycle so closely comports to our modern, scientific understanding of "the circle of life."  Atoms and energy don't increase or decrease—they simply change form.

The bookends, shown above, display quotes from Saint John Cardinal Newman and Saint John the Evangelist.  They were made by Bradley & Hubbard in Meriden, Connecticut in the Twenties or Thirties.  Newman's quote, written with poetic flair, displays great trust in his faith: "Though I cannot navigate the gloom myself, I will follow your kindly light—which I know will lead me right."  Click on the photo above to learn more about them.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248