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.
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.
The Profane Museum, founded by Clement XIII in 1761 was the first gallery in the Vatican dedicated to the display of the ancient “profane” pieces. These included pagan art as well as “domestic” instruments (cameos, ivory, rock crystal and small bronzes). The museum underwent a large overhaul when a new entrance was constructed and many pieces were given a course of restoration at that time thanks to the efforts of the Michigan Chapter.
Pieces depicted in the video include works from the 2nd to 5th century, many from Roman houses and some amazing artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum. In the 1700s several of these pieces, that had been part of a large collection owned by Cardinal Carpegna, were repurposed and adorned with golden appointments by the artist Valadier .The preserved state of these artifacts is amazing! Let restorer Claudia Legga walk you through these meticulously restored pieces. Again, many thanks to the Michigan Chapter for their support in this effort.
Restorations are complete on three beautiful crucifixes!In 2007, Carlo and Lucia Barocchi donated three exquisite crosses to Pope Benedict XVI. One was a 14th century copper crucifix of the “archaic” style, a second in gilded silver was from the 17th century and a third (the oldest) dates back to the late middle ages. After being put in our Wishbook a restoration of these pieces was supported by Tony and Suzanne Rea of the Michigan Chapter. The spectacular final results are due to their patronage and the efforts of our wonderful restorers of the Decorative Arts Department.