Benedict XIV: An 18th Century “Thunder Mug” Signal Cannon with Papal Crest

Benedict XIV: An 18th Century “Thunder Mug” Signal Cannon with Papal Crest

During the Papacy of Pope Benedict XIV
The Artifact Featured Here

The artifact is of cylindrical form with a ringed rim and is raised on a circular foot with scroll work on the handle.

It is cast in relief with the heraldic crest: the coat of arms of Pope Benedict XIV (1740 – 1758). 

What is a Thunder Mug?

They derive their name from their typical “mug” shape. Many had handles, but not all.
These have been used for centuries by black powder manufacturers for testing black powder formulas. Since their creation, they have been adapted to several other uses, to include signaling devices, firework launchers and smoke stack cleaners, to name a few.
Examples of early thunder mugs have been found in several countries. They are made from cast iron or brass. Most have a small lip at the bottom base, just below the touch-hole. This is where a small amount of powder was placed so as to ignite the powder in the chamber.

Sizes vary. However typical mugs are from 5 to 12 inches tall.

Fact 1: Nicknamed “Thunder Mug.”

Fact 2: Signal cannons were used by ships coming into harbor, which would signal the authorities in the port to come and inspect the ship before it offloaded goods and crew.
Fact 3: Thunder mugs were especially useful during the time of the black plague, when incoming ships had to be screened for the disease before crew could go ashore.
Fact 4: Because signal cannons lacked fuses, they were lit using long poles with wicks on the end.
Fact 5: Most thunder mugs were made from cast iron or brass. 

Blessing of Gunpowder, Projectiles & Bullets from 1739

This is a near contemporary (with Pope Benedict XIV)  blessing for fire arms and canons.
The title of the blessing is “Blessing of gunpowder, projectiles, also bullets (globes) of lead or iron.  Such items can be blessed collectively or individually.”
It is from the “Rituale Basileense” 1739.  Diocese of Basel, Switzerland.
Father Richard Kunst, Curator, is grateful to Fr. Adrian Hilton (friend of for providing this information.

Pope Benedict XIV, Papal Coat of Arms & Monument

  • Date August 2, 2023
  • Tags Benedict XIV