Dating to c.1676-1688, I am thrilled to present this highly-important Church jewel for the consideration of my Ruby Lane clientele!
Measuring 1 1/2" tall with the bail x 1 1/8" wide x 1/2" thick, this is easily the most historically-significant devotional jewel that I have discovered in my 13 years as a Ruby Lane Platinum-level shop owner! This magnificent double-locket style reliquary was made in Rome, Italy specifically for Pope Innocent XI, and features a portrait of the Pope on one side and the noble arms of the Odelscachi family engraved on the reverse!
Pope Innocent XI was born Benedetto Odelscachi into to the noble Church family in 1611. Drawn to the Church at an early age, he took holy orders, and soon rose to be a papal legate and was made a cardinal while still only a priest. On September 21, 1676, at the age of 65, he was elected to the Papal Throne of St. Peter, and took the name and title of Pope Innocent XI. (At a time when the Church was often at odds with the fabulous King Louis XIV of France, history’s most famous absolute monarch, it was, perhaps, fitting to have a Pontiff whose named called to mind the height of power achieved during the reign of Innocent III in the Middle Ages; a Pope known for bringing Christian monarchs to heel.)
Pope Innocent XI is known in Budapest as the "Saviour of Hungary." Additionally, Innocent XI showed a degree of sensitivity in his dealings with the Jews within the Italian States. He compelled the city of Venice to release the Jewish prisoners taken by Francesco Morosini in 1685. He also discouraged compulsory baptisms which accordingly became less frequent under his pontificate, but he could not abolish the old practice altogether. More controversially on 30 October 1682, he issued an edict by which all the money-lending activities carried out by the Roman Jews were to cease.
Hand-wrought from sterling-grade silver, this reliquary locket would have been wrought between 1676-1689. The Pontiff is depicted as an elderly man in Papal robes. Around the border is the motto: INOCES/ XI/P/M, the Latin shorthand for "Innocent XI Pontificus Maximus." The reverse of the locket is beautifully-engraved with the Odelscachi coat of arms, which is topped by the Papal Crown, and bears the two keys of the Vatican. This box-style jewel opens on both sides, which display double hinges, as well as it's original locking tabs, which are in good working order!
This locket would have been bestowed on a very high-raking member of the Church by Pope Innocent XI himself. It very likely originally held a lock of the Pope's hair, but after nearly 350 years, the contents are lost to history. What is truly astounding is the fact that this devotional jewel has survived for three and a half centuries in as pristine a condition as the most discerning collector could hope for; it is 100% intact, without ANY damage, repairs, or visible signs of wear. I suspect that this jewel was kept in a Church collection for generations. Provenance is from an important High Church collection in Winchester, UK.
Best of all, this superb piece of High Church history is just as wearable today as when it as first given to it's original owner by the Pope! it looks superb worn on a silver chain, and is suitable for wear by a lady or a gentleman. Moreover, it represents a wonderful investment opportunity for the serious collector of serious High Church jewelry, and is certain to appreciate over time.
If you collect the ULTIMATE in Papal or jewels of religious significance, this rarity belongs in your collection! It would also make a thrilling gift for any lady or gentleman fond of Papal history, and will be shipped in a gift box. As with all of my items pre-dating 1700, this jewel will be sold with a COA and valuation for your insurance purposes at no extra charge. Do not miss this museum-worthy Papal jewel; I never expect to find another, up to 120-day layaway is available, and USPS Priority mail shipping is FREE!
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