Pope Pius VII: Ornate Chalice with “Maker’s Mark”
The chalice is a very ornate and beautiful artifact that dates between the years 1814 and 1870. Unlike the chalice belonging to Pope Leo XIII, it does not have a particular pope’s coat of arms. And so we can only surmise that it was used by a pope, but we know it was used in service of the pope because of the maker’s mark located on the lip of the chalice.
Every metal worker, jeweler, and medal maker or silversmith add maker’s marks to the items they create. This practice also allows us to identify the time period in which the item was created.
This chalice indicates it was made between 1814-1870 because it has a maker’s mark of the cross keys and tiara–a very, very tiny mark in this piece of metal. This was just to show it was made in service to the Holy Father. In the case of this chalice, it was added to the lip, the middle and the base. On the base, the name of the priest who gave this chalice to St. Charles’ Church is also included.
Beginning in 1814 fine metal artists in the Papal States used this particular maker’s mark. Napoleon Bonaparte had released Pius VII from custody after nearly four years. Jubilation was so great in Rome upon his release that the artists started putting this maker’s mark of cross keys and tiara on their works in honor of the Holy Father’s safety. That practice continued until 1870 when the Papal States were taken over by United Italy.
There is no indication that any one particular pope used this chalice, but the symbol of the cross keys and tiara maker’s mark deem this totally appropriate for this Collection.
It is interesting to speculate in whose hands and on what altars this 200-year-old chalice was used. It always goes back to the central source and summit of our faith, the Eucharist. It is part of the living history of the Eucharist and the priests who are its celebrants. It helps us to recognize that the Eucharist is a part of the living history of the papacy. Father Richard Kunst.
These are the five popes who reigned during the time the Maker’s Mark was used: Pius VII, Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI & Pius IX.
The 1807 Letter Signed by Napoleon
Concerning the Papal States
(Images Featured Above)
Translation of the Letter
This letter appears in “Correspondance de Napoleon ler, Tome XVI”
We must stick, for the good of Ancona, to the decree which I have issued; everything must remain in the hands of the Pope’s government; but General Lamarois, in his capacity as governor, must command the military and the police. The 400,000 francs necessary for the working of the port will be taken from the funds from the provinces, as well as what is necessary for the maintenance of the troops. I pray God that has you in his care and may keep you safe.
Milan 23 November 1807
Father Richard Kunst
The artifact is a letter signed by Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821) (“Napol”) in 1807 to, “Mon fils,” his adopted son of Josephine.
In the letter he is discussing his strategy for managing Pope Pius VII during his assault on the Papal States.
It consists of one page and was written from the Palais du Milan on Nov. 23, 1807. A penciled note at the bottom right notes that the text of the letter is in the hand of General Geraud Duroc (1772 – 1813).
Napoleon was writing to Prince Eugene Napoleon (de Beauharnais), Viceroy of the Kingdom of Italy and commander of the army of Italy. He mentions a secret plot which seems to relate to his creeping campaign against the Vatican and its duchies.
Father Richard Kunst
The Importance of This Letter
The content is important to the collection, because Napoleon was more hostile to the popes than any other modern age leader.
The year after this letter Napoleon kidnapped the pope, and the pope then excommunicated him.
Also the Cause for canonization for Pius VII was recently introduced, too:
Pius VII died in 1823 at age 81. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI began the process towards canonizing him, and he was granted the title, “Servant of God.”
Pius VII’s spiritual strength was shown in his forgiving nature by not only offering refuge in Rome to the Bonaparte family, but also by intervening for Napoleon when his health deteriorated while in captivity on the island of St. Helena. The pope believed his captivity was too harsh. He sent him a chaplain to minister to his needs.
Pius VII was pope from 1800 – 1823.