This is a life-size bust of St. Pius V, made of silver-coloured wood, placed on a large shrine of gilt wood. Together they measure 40 inches in height and 25 inches in width.
Inside, placed on a red silk pillow, are two original papal shoes of the pope and a filigree silver reliquary, containing a large relic of the pope, sealed with the red wax seal of Bishop Silvester Meranus, Prefect of the Apostolic (Papal) Sacristy, signed and sealed in Rome on February 5, 1736.
The shrine also contains a papal breve (defined in the Glossary of Papal Artifacts) by Pope Pius VI (1775-1799), granting certain privileges to the altar to which the shrine belonged, due to the pious veneration of these precious relics.
The following information verifies the authenticity of this very rare addition to the Collection:
The relic came from the closed-down Church of San Gennaro a Sedil Capuano, which served as the Neapolitan residence church of a local noble family, the Caracciolos. This family had a special historical relationship to the pope since the battle of Lepanto; Ferrante Caracciolo not only participated in this historic battle against the Ottoman Naval Forces, but also wrote its first published chronicle.
The papal breve attached to the reliquary and dated 1775 gives an additional link, mentioning the San Giorgio a Cremona, a community near Naples–where the Caracciolo family had their major “out of town” residence, the Villa Caracciolo di Forino. The relevant time frame indicates a connection with one of the most illustrious members of the family, the famous Italian Admiral Francesco Caracciolo (1753-1799), who, at the battle of Genoa, fought against a French revolutionary fleet. He spent his childhood at S. Giorgio a Cremona but later moved to Naples, commanding the Royal Neapolitan fleet. For him, the relic of the Pope of Lepanto must have had a special significance and it is very possible that it was he who removed it from San Giorgio a Cremona to San Gennaro a Sedil Capuano in Naples.
A red wax seal on one of the shoes indicates that they were recognized as relics by a Neapolitan auxiliary bishop during the second half of the 19th century.
Visit Papal History/Pius V and read his biography, see his coat of arms, and his burial site in St. Mary Major. Other artifacts connected to Saint Pius V are featured below with commentary on them on Papal Artifacts/Pius V.
Saint Pius V was the last pope to be canonized until Saint Pius X on May 29, 1954 by Pope Pius XII. They were followed by St. John XXIII and St. John Paul the Great on April 27, 2014.
Saint Pius V, pray for us!