The following commentary is from the EWTN series, The Papacy: A Living History, The Papal Artifacts Collection of Father Richard Kunst. This artifact was featured on the fourth episode of the series, Popes of the 19th & 18th Centuries. A DVD of the series is available from EWTN.
Here is Father’s commentary about this artifact:
This 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 has contained it.
I use this chalice on a daily basis. It’s a good way to stay connected to this Pope because as a priest of the Diocese of Duluth, I’m aware he established our Diocese in 1889. So it’s a real good connection to our founding Holy Father. But then, I also have that real tangible connection each day, using a chalice that our Holy Father used. While I could store this, it’s so spiritually significant that I want both to use it at Mass and in teaching situations.
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 Blessed John Paul II) dying in 1903.