Monday 5 January 2015

On the eleventh day of Christmas, ARCAT stored for me…

...eleven saintly medals,

Medallions Special Collection
MD.20, MD.141, MD.64, MD.126, MD.111, MD.101, MD.80, MD.42, MD.74, MD.36, MD.51, MD.64

Medals are typically round pieces of metal struck or cast for commemorative purposes. Religious devotional medals often depict the saints.  Medals may be designed for display purposes, or to be worn or attached to a rosary.

In the Middle Ages, it became common practice for pilgrimage sites to distribute tokens cast in lead, which served as a souvenir and proof that the pilgrim had duly reached the destination. During the Renaissance, religious medals became aides in popular devotion, often because the medals were given a papal blessing or enriched with indulgences. The issuing of papal jubilee medals began as early as 1475. Since then, the most noteworthy actions of each pontificate have been commemorated with medals.

Today we highlight “saintly medals” in our collections, including religious medals of saints, and papal medals of popes who have since been canonized (left to right):

  • St. John XXIII (the Pope is wearing headgear known as the Papal Camauro, a cap of wool or velvet with fur trim)
  • St. Elizabeth of Hungary
  • The Conversion of St. Augustine
  • St. Paul (presumably because this bearded figure is holding a scroll, representing the Scriptures)
  • St. John Paul II (World Youth Day Toronto 2002 medal)
  • St. Charles Borromeo
  • St. Christopher medallion, popularly worn by travelers or hung in vehicles for protection.  The reverse of this medallion states: “I am a Catholic. In case of accident call a priest."  
  • St. Pius X
  • St. Joseph, distributed at the Oratory in Montreal
  • St. Gregory Barbarigo
  • St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, a Canadian saint

ten ’broidered vestments,

nine document seals,

eight spir’tual bouquets,

seven papal bulls,

six pairs of buskins,

five golden rings,

four photographs,

three mitres,

two maniples,

and a pen used to vote at Conclave.

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