The Papal Artifacts’ Collection is primarily dedicated to artifacts connected to the papacy. Individual popes, their biographies and multiple items belonging to them, including first and second class relics, make up the majority of this Collection. But that isn’t all it is.
Father Kunst has a deep devotion to the saints as can be readily seen in viewing the Saints & Blesseds section of this site. We invite you to visit Papal History/Saints & Blesseds to view the many canonized and beatified men and women who make up this section of the Collection.
Another category is also included with this Collection: Notable Individuals. These are people significantly associated with the Catholic Church who have not been canonized but contributed in outstanding ways to the church.
Queen Christina of Sweden, 1626 – 1689, a Notable Individual, is one of them.
The artifact is a document, signed, in Stockholm, on October 10, 1645.
It is a two-page manuscript, hand-written in Swedish on both the front and back of one long sheet of watermarked laid-paper, and is signed by the Queen as “Christina” in black ink above a paper-covered wax seal.
The document is 12 1/4 x 7 7/8 inches and is well preserved overall with a dark and bold signature of the queen.
In the document Christina, the enigmatic Queen of Sweden from 1632-1654, generously offers retiring military commander, Jacob Muller, a large parcel of land in Upsala County along with barrels of grain and an income for life.
Queen Christina of Sweden
Christina was the only legitimate heir to her father. Gustavus Adolphus, who died in battle, and she assumed the crown at age 6 but did not rule until 18.
Extravagant and fond of books, manuscripts, science and art, she is considered one of the most learned women of the 17th century. For example, she corresponded with Rene Descartes who died in Sweden in 1650 while tutoring her.
With her interest in religion, philosophy, mathematics and alchemy, she attracted many scientists to Stockholm, wanting the city to become the “Athens of the North”.
She eventually abdicated her throne, converted to Roman Catholicism, and moved to Rome. When she died there in 1689, her coffin was placed in the Vatican grotto, one of just three women buried there.
Christina’s financial extravagance brought the state to the verge of bankruptcy, and the financial difficulties caused public unrest after ten years of ruling. At the age of 28, the “Minerva of the North” relinquished the throne to her cousin and moved to Rome. Pope Alexander VII described Christina as “a queen without a realm, a Christian without faith, and a woman without shame.”
Notwithstanding, she played a leading part in the theatrical and musical community and protected many Baroque artists, composers, and musicians.
Being the guest of five consecutive popes, and a symbol of the Counter Reformation, she is one of the few women buried in the Vatican grotto. Her unconventional lifestyle and masculine dressing have been featured in countless novels, plays, operas, and film.
Queen Christina is one of only three women to be buried in the Vatican Gardens.
In February 1689, the 62-year-old Christina fell seriously ill after a visit to the temples in Campania, and received the last rites. She suffered from diabetes mellitus. Christina seemed to recover, but in the middle of April she developed an acute streptococcus bacterial infection, then contracted pneumonia and a high fever. On her deathbed she sent the pope a message asking if he could forgive her insults. She died on April 19, 1689 in Palazzo Corsini.
Christina had asked for a simple burial in the Pantheon, Rome, but the ceremonies instead lasted for four days.
In similar fashion to the popes, her body was placed in three coffins – one of cypress, one of lead and finally one made of oak.
The funeral procession on May 2 led from Santa Maria in Vallicella to St. Peter’s Basilica, where she was buried within the Vatican grottos– one of only three women ever given this honor (the other two being Matilda of Tuscany and Sobieska).
In 1702 Clement XI commissioned a monument for the queen, in whose conversion he vainly foresaw a return of her country to the Faith and to whose contribution towards the culture of the city he looked back with gratitude. This monument was placed in the body of the basilica and directed by the artist Carlo Fontana.
The monument to Queen Christina of Sweden was commissioned by Pope Innocent XII (r. 1691-1700) and designed by the architect Carlo Fontana (1638-1714).
Queen Christina is depicted in a bronze medallion, which is supported by a crowned skull. The relief at the front of the urn depicts the queen relinquishing her throne.
The monument to Christina of Sweden was ordered by Innocent XII but finished under Clement XI in 1702. It contains a bronze medallion with a harsh profile of the eccentric queen designed by Gilardoni; the putti are by Ottoni; the bas-relief, depicting the abjuration of Christina, which took place in Innsbruck in 1655, is by Théodon.