SFONDRATI COLLECTION: Sfondrati’s Excavation and the Unique Vessels Used to House the Relics

When Cardinal Sfondrati excavated beneath the altar at St. Cecilia in the fall of 1599, included in his discoveries were the body of the Saint as well as relics from other martyrs and popes. The most sacred of these were reconsecrated in the ground under the altar, however many pieces were transferred at the time to repurposed and beautifully adorned silver vessels. These have been painstakingly restored thanks to the support of the Ohio Chapter of Patrons and work by restorer Barbara Pinto Folicaldi.

[Behind-the-scenes with amazing silverwork]

The Collection of Cardinal Sfondrati from Vatican Patrons of the Arts on Vimeo.

[Behind-the-scenes with amazing silverwork]

It is interesting to note that the silver bowls and cups used to house these religious relics were originally “profane” in origin and likely domestic pieces that would have been used at an official banquet. However, they were so treasured, that in the hands of craftsmen in the 1600s these were consecrated and adorned with religious symbology to be made appropriate resting places for the ashes of sanctified relics.

These pieces were then in the custody of St. Cecilia until the early 20th century when they were brought to the Vatican Museums.

{Guido Cornini, Curator of the Decorative Arts Department, gives you more information on the restoration of these beautiful reliquaries now housed in the “Room of the Tributes” in the Vatican Museums….}

See our other restoration videos on our website by clicking here!