Jump to content

Vatican Medal with Roman Coin Motif


Ten-Speed

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

In addition to minting coins, the Papal States and Vatican have also produced medals (some very artistic) that bring out themes of a particular papacy or of the times. This bronze medal was produced during the reign of Pope Pius IV (1559-65). When he took office, the Reformation had been in full swing for several decades, and the Counter-Reformation was beginning to become forceful. Pius IV had excellent training in law and during his reign he re-convened the stalled Council of Trent. Documents of this Council are very legalistic and were the major source of dogma within the church until Vatican II, beginning in the 1960s.

Sadly this medal reflects on the hopes of peace when European wars involved much of the continent, culminating in the early 17th century (Thirty Years War) where over eight million Europeans perished.

Again, this is a coin designed in a similar manner as Roman coins--effigy facing the right and a Greco-Roman goddess (Pax, Roman; Eirene, Greek) on the reverse. I find this intriguing: in a church that once condemned all things pagan, some of the wisdom of the Graeco-Roman world is now prized. Much of this developed, of course, in the late Middle Ages and the centuries of the early Renaissance. (Perhaps this was one step toward including the wisdom of other cultures, now called "The Big Tent" philosophy of being open to other ways of doing things.)

Do you have any Vatican medals or coins?

(Especially those bringing in Roman or Greek culture?)

Any Roman coins with Pax?

 

image.png.332022186ebb23585d68128af5ef0679.png

image.png.e73534208cb11924e19df0c11bb7b52a.png

Edited by Ten-Speed
  • Like 7
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted · Supporter
Posted (edited)

The Vatican medals are normally well designed and struck. Have some good eye appeal. I don´t have any Vatican examples, but as you asked for a Roman coin with PAX also, here is one

TACITUS Antoninianus. Ticinum mint.
Obverse: IMP C M CL TACITVS AVG. Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right.
Reverse: PAX AVGVSTI. Pax standing left, holding olive branch and transverse sceptre; P in exergue.
 
RIC 150, Cohen 72.  Ticinum mint, early-June 276.  3,5 g - 22,5 mm

Marcus Claudius Tacitus was Roman emperor from 275 to 276. During his short reign, following the death of Aurelian, he campaigned against the Goths and the Heruli, for which he received the title Gothicus Maximus
Born: 200 AD, Terni, Italy
Died: June 276 AD Tyana, Cappodocia, Turkey.
Siblings Florianus
Reign: c. December 275 – c. June 276.
His Regnal name is shortened in the obverse Legend: IMPerator Caesar Marcus CLavdius TACITVS AVGustus.

Tacitus.jpg.ccb4e9481558b8ebbffe0e02f9debfd4.jpg

Edited by expat
  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted · Supporter
Posted (edited)

I have a side collection of papal medals - 19th and 20th centuries, many of which have detailed renderings of buildings restored during the reigns of the pontiffs issuing the medals.

I have a few more, but not to hand at the moment - a few non-papal types have sneaked in here too!

20240708_174023.jpg.c919252f845e9f16e0dfdb9eb9b9125d.jpg20240708_174028.jpg.38de52cd078dc79d5ad8a2c5bf409a8a.jpg

Here's one with some personifications, with the relevant page in Bartolotti.

20240708_174040.jpg.63281aacfc661123057ebde69b743ea3.jpg

Both sides (it's the silver version, but very dark):
Leo_XIII_VIII_Obv.JPG.d412203de9f6e3b46bd309e30dfa3183.JPGLeo_XIII_VIII_Rev.JPG.9b15e3b645c120329851fe816124659d.JPG

I've got to some of the places depicted on the coins - I overpost a nice silver medal of the Basilica of St. Laurence (https://www.tantaluscoins.com/coins/105937.php) with a photo' of the interior which matches the medal quite well.

Here's a chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore (Pius IX, year XXVII) - I was there last month, but I don't have a photo':

LeoIX_bronze_Rev.JPG.cf8dd9bde992be4b1ea3d3a503ac2fb2.JPG

Here's one of Pius XI of the Holy Door in St. Peter's - the 2022 photo' is of the Filarete door, from the original St. Peter's.
Pius_XI_XII_Rev.JPG.57af2e9bee73762b1e32da769c9a73bb.JPG

OI000470-DeNoiseAI-raw.jpg.490a502f5d47aebc9cf71ac96bca9a48.jpg

I pick up the architectural types when I can.

ATB,
Aidan.

Edited by akeady
  • Like 5
  • Thanks 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted · Supporter

There is a long tradition in the West of using motifs of pagan origin in the visual arts, usually in an allegorical sense.

 Here is a gros of the city of Rome from the 13th century.  During an era when you might expect the religious element to predominate in the design, here non-religious imagery dominates.  The obverse shows the figure of Roma, originally an actual goddess, seated on a throne very reminiscent of contemporary Byzantine coins, but on which it would be common to see either Christ or the Virgin Mary seated.  Here is a gold coin of Isaac II showing Mary, contrasted with the silver gros which has re-purposed this religious imagery.

image.jpeg.b2b761f8b2218993aa63f13b9aaffaee.jpeg image.png.bbd7457ebae658bb0ed0d77e4373a309.png

We see the figure of Roma holds an orb, the emblem of sovereignty.  Usually, we would expect a globus cruciger, as held at this time by centuries of emperors and kings.  Instead we see the naked orb of power.  

The palm branch is a sign of victory, frequently associated with the triumph of Christian martyrs. But here the palm would make no sense as a sign of martyrdom, and is clearly a palm of secular victory.  

The inscription reads ROMA CAP: MUNDI, for Roma Caput Mundi, Rome the head or leader of the world, a phrase which was coined by the pagan Roman poets.  

The reverse of the coin does not show a cross, as we would expect from the usual design of contemporary gros like these of France, Cyprus, Naples and other Latin principalities:

image.png.069838c78f703132fc99480d32a03208.png

Instead we have a lion, and the abbreviated inscription Senatus PopulusQue Romanum, SPQR, the senate and people of Rome.   A pre-Christian formulation.  

image.png.66a231b31622f5483b55bb836408a4fe.png

If it were not for the small crosses which initiate the inscriptions on both sides of the coin, there would be nothing obviously Christian about this coin, at all.   The crosses seem almost incidental.   Remove them, and there is nothing Trajan Decius or Diocletian would find objectionable.  

 

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, akeady said:

I have a side collection of papal medals - 19th and 20th centuries, many of which have detailed renderings of buildings restored during the reigns of the pontiffs issuing the medals.

I have a few more, but not to hand at the moment - a few non-papal types have sneaked in here too!

20240708_174023.jpg.c919252f845e9f16e0dfdb9eb9b9125d.jpg20240708_174028.jpg.38de52cd078dc79d5ad8a2c5bf409a8a.jpg

Here's one with some personifications, with the relevant page in Bartolotti.

20240708_174040.jpg.63281aacfc661123057ebde69b743ea3.jpg

Both sides (it's the silver version, but very dark):
Leo_XIII_VIII_Obv.JPG.d412203de9f6e3b46bd309e30dfa3183.JPGLeo_XIII_VIII_Rev.JPG.9b15e3b645c120329851fe816124659d.JPG

I've got to some of the places depicted on the coins - I overpost a nice silver medal of the Basilica of St. Laurence (https://www.tantaluscoins.com/coins/105937.php) with a photo' of the interior which matches the medal quite well.

Here's a chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore (Pius IX, year XXVII) - I was there last month, but I don't have a photo':

LeoIX_bronze_Rev.JPG.cf8dd9bde992be4b1ea3d3a503ac2fb2.JPG

Here's one of Pius XI of the Holy Door in St. Peter's - the 2022 photo' is of the Filarete door, from the original St. Peter's.
Pius_XI_XII_Rev.JPG.57af2e9bee73762b1e32da769c9a73bb.JPG

OI000470-DeNoiseAI-raw.jpg.490a502f5d47aebc9cf71ac96bca9a48.jpg

I pick up the architectural types when I can.

ATB,
Aidan.

The St. Mary Major brings back memories. I was teaching a class of USA students and we stayed in a little hotel (these have a name, I've forgotten) across from Mary Major. We had many good talks sitting at the outside tables across from the basilica, nourished by pizza. If I remember--it was the Borgia Chapel--it was like being in a jewelry box and it reminded me of the fabled "Amber Room."  I also kept wondering what it looked like when it supposedly snowed there around the 3rd or 4th centuries.Your collection is stunning and I'd say it was a careful specialization. BTW--is the page above from the Muntoni volumes?  Thanks very much for a view of the medals and your experiences in in Rome!

Edited by Ten-Speed
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Hrefn said:

There is a long tradition in the West of using motifs of pagan origin in the visual arts, usually in an allegorical sense.

 Here is a gros of the city of Rome from the 13th century.  During an era when you might expect the religious element to predominate in the design, here non-religious imagery dominates.  The obverse shows the figure of Roma, originally an actual goddess, seated on a throne very reminiscent of contemporary Byzantine coins, but on which it would be common to see either Christ or the Virgin Mary seated.  Here is a gold coin of Isaac II showing Mary, contrasted with the silver gros which has re-purposed this religious imagery.

image.jpeg.b2b761f8b2218993aa63f13b9aaffaee.jpeg image.png.bbd7457ebae658bb0ed0d77e4373a309.png

We see the figure of Roma holds an orb, the emblem of sovereignty.  Usually, we would expect a globus cruciger, as held at this time by centuries of emperors and kings.  Instead we see the naked orb of power.  

The palm branch is a sign of victory, frequently associated with the triumph of Christian martyrs. But here the palm would make no sense as a sign of martyrdom, and is clearly a palm of secular victory.  

The inscription reads ROMA CAP: MUNDI, for Roma Caput Mundi, Rome the head or leader of the world, a phrase which was coined by the pagan Roman poets.  

The reverse of the coin does not show a cross, as we would expect from the usual design of contemporary gros like these of France, Cyprus, Naples and other Latin principalities:

image.png.069838c78f703132fc99480d32a03208.png

Instead we have a lion, and the abbreviated inscription Senatus PopulusQue Romanum, SPQR, the senate and people of Rome.   A pre-Christian formulation.  

image.png.66a231b31622f5483b55bb836408a4fe.png

If it were not for the small crosses which initiate the inscriptions on both sides of the coin, there would be nothing obviously Christian about this coin, at all.   The crosses seem almost incidental.   Remove them, and there is nothing Trajan Decius or Diocletian would find objectionable.  

 

Thank you for posting these. I would be fascinated if you had others you might post sometime and similarly explain. Again, thanks.

  • Like 1
  • Smile 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, expat said:

The Vatican medals are normally well designed and struck. Have some good eye appeal. I don´t have any Vatican examples, but as you asked for a Roman coin with PAX also, here is one

TACITUS Antoninianus. Ticinum mint.
Obverse: IMP C M CL TACITVS AVG. Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right.
Reverse: PAX AVGVSTI. Pax standing left, holding olive branch and transverse sceptre; P in exergue.
 
RIC 150, Cohen 72.  Ticinum mint, early-June 276.  3,5 g - 22,5 mm

Marcus Claudius Tacitus was Roman emperor from 275 to 276. During his short reign, following the death of Aurelian, he campaigned against the Goths and the Heruli, for which he received the title Gothicus Maximus
Born: 200 AD, Terni, Italy
Died: June 276 AD Tyana, Cappodocia, Turkey.
Siblings Florianus
Reign: c. December 275 – c. June 276.
His Regnal name is shortened in the obverse Legend: IMPerator Caesar Marcus CLavdius TACITVS AVGustus.

Tacitus.jpg.ccb4e9481558b8ebbffe0e02f9debfd4.jpg

Thanks for putting this up. I find it so interesting that the Church befriended (is this the right word?) some of the great classical themes. I have a 20th century Vatican coin around here with Prudentia (Prudence), if I can locate it I'll post it.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted · Supporter
1 hour ago, Ten-Speed said:

The St. Mary Major brings back memories. I was teaching a class of USA students and we stayed in a little hotel (these have a name, I've forgotten) across from Mary Major. We had many good talks sitting at the outside tables across from the basilica, nourished by pizza. If I remember--it was the Borgia Chapel--it was like being in a jewelry box and it reminded me of the fabled "Amber Room."  I also kept wondering what it looked like when it supposedly snowed there around the 3rd or 4th centuries.Your collection is stunning and I'd say it was a careful specialization. BTW--is the page above from the Muntoni volumes?  Thanks very much for a view of the medals and your experiences in in Rome!

Plenty to see in the Eternal Cty 🙂

The page is from Bartolotti - on the right - Annual medals from Paul V to Paul VI.   I don't have any older than the mid-19th century.

20240708_234846.jpg.4e359c3b4d808d4be75ac9ac0b98c189.jpg

ATB,
Aidan.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 hours ago, akeady said:

Plenty to see in the Eternal Cty 🙂

The page is from Bartolotti - on the right - Annual medals from Paul V to Paul VI.   I don't have any older than the mid-19th century.

20240708_234846.jpg.4e359c3b4d808d4be75ac9ac0b98c189.jpg

ATB,
Aidan.

These go further back in time, but I thought you or others might be interested in them. I have heard somewhere that one can now read copy into Google Translate and it will do a translation. This is on my list of things to try out. For me it would really open up more things to research, as most of the writings on these seem to be in Italian.

Panorama Numismatico is published by the auction house Nomisma SPA in San Marino. As you can see from the cover of this magazine, there are articles on papal medals, and coins, too:

image.png.f2603364283ff8270256c720319175bc.png

 Here is is the book "Roma Resurgens: Papal Medals From the Age of the Baroque" published by University of Michigan Art Library. It is a dense book but the reader is rewarded with a rich overview of the history of the times of the medals, as well as the perspective from art history about the medals themselves. Following is a catalog from Nomisma SPA focusing on Papal coins and medals.

 

image.png.143681294bd30e82cdbc3ca29cb2269f.png

 

Screenshot2024-07-09at2_38_18PM.png.47106595b51f07093e843d19a1c59caf.pngH

Edited by Ten-Speed
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...