We celebrate the Paschal Mystery with a Triduum ( a period of three days): Holy Thursday begins this period of time the Church gives us to gather in commemoration of Our Lord’s Passion, Death & Resurrection. On this holy night our Lord gave us the Eucharist–His own Body & Blood, His promise He would be with us until the end of time. Papal Artifacts wishes all of you the opportunity to share in this mystery, this Supreme Gift, in your many parishes.
The Featured item is a silver chalice belonging to Pope Leo XIII that he both used and gave as a gift to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his priesthood in 1887. It’s all silver with his papal coat of arms engraved on its base.
As precious an item as this is, it really is because it leads back to the Eucharist, having contained the Precious Blood of Christ. It all leads back to Jesus Christ, sacramentally. So, as spectacular as the chalice is, what’s more important is what has been inside of it.
So we can look at this and be amazed to think Pope Leo XIII used this, but what’s more amazing is that Christ shed his blood and gave it to us to drink, and this vessel contained it.
Because I am a priest of the Diocese of Duluth, I’m aware Pope Leo XIII established our diocese in 1889. So, it’s really special to have this tangible connection to our founding Holy Father.
Pope Leo XIII, until Pope John Paul II, was the second longest reigning pope in history. When elected, he was 68 years old. He actually followed Pius IX, who at present, is the longest reigning pope in history. Pius IX died in 1878. After a very long pontificate, they usually try to elect an older guy, so the pontificate will be for a briefer period of time. But he fooled them! He lived so long that he ended by being the second longest reigning pope in history, (until the reign of Pope St. John Paul II) dying in 1903. –Father Richard Kunst
Holy Week is just as the name sounds, the holiest time of the year
for the Christian faith. What we commemorate this week is the center of our universe and the whole reason why we are Christians.
More than anything else during Lent, I want to encourage parishioners to make this week holy for themselves by taking
advantage of the beautiful liturgies the Church has to offer. Actually
the Holy Triduum of Holy Week, which is Holy Thursday through
the Easter Vigil on Saturday night is considered to be one continuous liturgy.
I would encourage you to go to all of the liturgies, but if you were to be only at one of them, then go to the Saturday.
With every blessing,
Father Richard Kunst, Curator
What follows are brief commentaries on the other chalices we are featuring on this Holy Thursday.
1. Leo XII & Pius VII:
The artifact presented here is a solid silver chalice featuring the coats of arms of two 19th century popes, Leo XII and Pius VII. A unique feature of the chalice is the depiction of their coats of arms on its base as well as a bishop’s coat of arms to the very right.
It is surmised that the recipient of the chalice may have been a bishop who was head of the papal household, probably serving for both popes, who reigned consecutively between 1800-1829.
2. 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.
3. This is the base of the featured item–Pope Leo XIII’s 50th anniversary chalice:
The whole chalice is silver with his papal coat of arms engraved on its base.
4. A Chalice & Paten Used by Pope John XXIII: June 16, 1959:
This chalice & paten have the rare distinction of having been used by Pope (now Saint) John XXIII on June 16, 1959, during the celebration of Holy Mass at the Vatican.
A certificate authenticating this date is included.
They were purchased for the ordination of Gaston Rosaire DesHarnais, a Roman Catholic priest, who lived in Rome in the late 1950’s. The lapis lazuli cabochons were purchased and blessed at the Shrine of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
5. This chalice featured here is from the era of Blessed Pope Paul VI, specifically 1976.
The inscription on the bottom of the chalice states it was given as a gift by the Pontiff that year–just two years before his death in 1978.
It is incredible to have any item connected to one of the pontiffs of the 20th century who has already been created Blessed.