This bronze medallion was created for the 1825 Jubilee year and features an image of the 1823 fire that devastated the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls during the end of the reign of Pope Pius VII.
St. Paul’s is one of Rome’s four major basilicas, (along with Saint John Lateran, Saint Peter, and Saint Mary Major), as well as one of the Seven Pilgrimage Churches of Rome.
The intricate detail of the fire on the medallion is the work of Giuseppe Girometti (1780 – 1851) an Italian gem cutter, die cutter, sculptor and medalist and one of the most important gemstone engravers of the first half of the 19th century.
*** (Girometti is also the creator of the Cornelian Intaglio Signet Ring which may be found with the artifacts connected to Pope Gregory XVI.)
The reverse side of the medallion is inscribed in Latin:
A LEONE XII PONT. MAX S. MARIA TRANS TIBER IN EA SACR. RITUS IMPLEVIT PRO IUBILEO A MDCCCXXV CARD. EPISC. PORTUENSIS BARTHOLOMEUS PACCA
This inscription in Latin refers to a rite performed at St. Mary in Trastevere by Pope Leo XII during the 1825 Jubilee year and was in honor of Cardinal Bartolomeo Pacca (1756-1844), a preeminent churchman, scholar, writer and statesman who came to the attention of Pope Pius VI and even accompanied Pope Pius VII into exile during the reign of Napoleon.
It would appear by the use of the image of the fire in a basilica so close to the heart of his predecessor, Pius VII, Pope Leo XII was succeeding in honoring him.
The inscription on the reverse side of the medallion calls attention to Cardinal Pacca who was even a candidate for the papal throne and continued to serve pontiffs until his death in 1844 during the reign of Pope Gregory XVI.
Thus, this intricately carved medallion is replete with information and another artifact in the living history of the papacy for which this Collection is renowned.