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Rare White Angelskin Coral & Vermeil Art Nouveau Rosary – Chartres Black Madonna Center – Signed Lourdes Tray
This precious religious ensemble combines a rare and beautiful Catholic rosary with a wonderful brass tray for displaying it on your dresser or in your sacred space. The rosary features petite white coral beads with occasional blush-pink accents, gently polished to a soft sheen to enhance their beauty and facilitate prayer. This is the only coral rosary I have seen in this color and its aesthetics and energy are very special indeed
Instead of six pater beads, this unusual rosary has beautiful round medals, all of which have a spray of lilies on the verso. The fronts include two each of a profile of the Blessed Mother with her hands clasped in prayer, a somewhat obscure rendering of the Madonna and Child, and a gorgeous image of Mary as the Rosa Mystica surrounded by sumptuous carved roses.
Surrounding each pater medal is delightfully fancy Figaro chain. It has a section of twisted tri-lobe chain at the center with extended twisted links on either side for a sturdy yet delicate appearance. To me it adds a perfect finishing touch to an already exquisite devotional.
The symbolism on the center medal likely indicates that this rosary was acquired on a pilgrimage to Chartres Cathedral in France. It is said that during the Renaissance, Chartres Cathedral was built on a sacred site where ancient Druids worshipped the Mother Goddess. The beautifully detailed image on the front of the medal depicts "ND (Notre Dame) de Chartres Sous Terre" or "Our Lady Under the Earth." Beneath her is written (but barely legible) "Virgini Parituræ" acknowledging the Druidic prophecy of the "Virgin who will bear a child."
This pagan image and fertility symbol depicts a crowned Madonna seated on a throne holding the child between her knees, not on her lap. It is based on a fire-blackened statue once venerated in an underground chapel at Chartres, and it remains in a crypt to this day. A replica of this ancient icon is also found on the west façade of the cathedral, venerating Mary as the Mother of God. The back of the medal depicts another statue at Chartres, Our Lady of the Pillar, which is located in the cathedral.
The ornate 2-layer crucifix is stunning under magnification, revealing a wheat, grape and grapevine pattern within the arms of the cross and elegant scrollwork at the tips. The slender, full-mold corpus is nicely detailed with minor devotional wear and Christ's feet are separate instead of crossed. The verso is plain.
Regarding the metals on this rosary, the crucifix and chain are hallmarked, indicating gold vermeil on silver (French boar hallmark on the crucifix bail; indecipherable punch mark on the extended link just above the first pater medal.) The pater and center medals are not marked, but are likely vermeil as well.
Completing the ensemble is a rounded rectangular tray is silvered brass, likely from a pilgrimage to Lourdes. As the rosary and tray were acquired together, I can only imagine that the original owner was devoted to Our Blessed Mother, adding to the devotional significance of each piece. There is very little silver remaining on the tray, so it is a bright and golden complement to the rosary's vermeil components. The acanthus and floral ornamentation around the slightly crimped rim is outstanding, as is the repoussé medallion of St. Bernadette kneeling before Our Lady in the grotto at Lourdes. The detail is lovely, and the medallion is signed "E.D." in the lower right corner. This likely represents the French engraver, Emile Dropsy (1843–1923), who is well known for his religious medals, coins and medallions.
Don't miss this opportunity to acquire these outstanding devotionals that will grace your life with their natural beauty, inspired execution and rich symbolism. They are in excellent antique condition and are guaranteed to please. Comes boxed and ready for gift-giving.
Weight – 10 grams
Length – 15-7/8 inches total; 6 inch drop
Beads – Average 3-3/4 to 4 mm x 3 to 3-1/2 mm
Crucifix – 1-1/8 x 3/16 inches
Center Medal – 3/8 inches
Pater Medals – 1/4 inches
Tray – 4-1/4 x 3 inches
Not suitable for wearing
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Donna Marie Guardino, Cleveland, OH
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