Monday 9 September 2013

Record of the Week: Papal Medal of the Reconvening of Vatican II

Paul VI papal medal, 1963
Medallions Special Collection, MD.23

Fifty years ago, Pope Paul VI reconvened the Second Vatican Council, which had automatically closed with the death of Pope John XXIII.  Paul VI, portrayed in profile on the obverse of this medal, was known for giving Vatican II clear direction, and for leading the implementation of its resulting reforms.

This papal medal commemorates Paul VI opening the second session of Vatican II in 1963. The reverse depicts the Supreme Pontiff walking through the doors of St. Peter's Basilica to a crowd of seated participants. St. Peter's Baldachin over the main altar can be seen in the background.

The medal likely belonged to Most Rev. Philip F. Pocock, Coadjutor Archbishop of Toronto at the time, who participated in Vatican II on behalf of Archbishop James Cardinal McGuigan. It has an "800" stamp on the reverse, indicating a composition of 80% silver and 20% copper.

The issuing of papal jubilee medals began as early as 1475. Since then, the most noteworthy actions of each pontificate have been commemorated by medals, often designed by famous artists. 

Display of medals at the Catholic Pastoral Centre
Today we took down a display of medals from the lobby entrance of the Catholic Pastoral Centre. Luckily - because the medals are impervious to heat and sunlight - we were able to keep the display up all summer.

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