Collections – Silver, Gold And Liturgical Vestments

Among the collection of gold and silver in the Museum, a prominent place is occupied by the Angevin brooch, an object catalogued by Lipinski and Frangipane as a cope pin at the beginning of the last century. In a 1559 document, however, the brooch was described as: “[…] a great pontifical golden silver ring with many daisies and a perna with the inscription: Cristus vincit, Cristus regnat, Cristus (im)perat … .] The brooch was definitely modified, probably at the beginning of the ‘900, as shown by the stud welded on the back. Along with the brooch, in this document, are listed many other items made of gold and ivory, which will no longer be mentioned in documents starting from 1800.

The most representative work, which demonstrates the link in the eighteenth century between Calabria and Neapolitan silversmiths, is the magnificent statue of Santa Anastasia made in 1792, as evidenced by the consular punch. The work in silver, custom-built for the Architect Ganini, was built in the workshop of Baccaro in Naples. It is always Ganini himself who ordered the silver cross altar, portapalme vessels and a few pairs of candlesticks bearing his coat of arms. The statue is believed to be important, especially from an iconographic point of view. This model of the panel painting from 1790, made by an unknown local artist, almost certainly commissioned by the same Ganini and in memory of yet another earthquake in 1783 that caused destruction also in S. Severina, on the left arm holding the small village.

G. Simioli, Neapolitan silversmith active between 1694 and 1713, present in different regions of southern Italy, is a finely crafted pyx engraved with six scenes of the Passion of Christ. On the cup are represented: Christ praying in the Garden of Olives, Christ at the Column and the Crowning with Thorns; while on the cover are: the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and Our Lady of Sorrows. For the preparation of the Gospel scenes the two patens of the seventeenth century engraved with the Last Supper can be placed next to the pyx.

Another work of fundamental importance for the history of the Metropolis is the base and the arm reliquary of Santa Anastasia.

According to an ancient tradition, the relic was donated by Robert Guiscard to the Archbishop of the time immediately after the Norman Conquest. The donation was used to start latinise the Calabrian territory that for centuries had been under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople. An act of great political importance, which led the people of Santa Severina the veneration of Latin saint in place of Santa Severina, saint of Byzantine origin. The arm reliquary is already present in several inventories from the sixteenth century. This suggests that the Architect. Falcone (1743-1759), probably, recast the old arm. The arm, in fact, now bears his coat of arms. The presence of an ancient arm is confirmed by the foundation, built around 1690 and donated by the family Gruther, new feudal lords, to the Santa Severina Church.

Interesting and important from the historical and artistic standpoint are the votive offerings, direct testimony of the devotion to St. Anastasia. The type is varied, rings, brooches, earrings, chains and pendants that faithful for graces received, donated to Santa as a pledge or commitment. The collection includes objects of the finest and various workmanship: pendant earrings in mother of pearl, on white gold, rings with pearls and engravings. We furthermore note is that many wedding rings are engraved with names or dedications. This heritage in S. Severina has been saved. In other situations, the tendency is to “destroy” by recasting this jewellery to create collective devotional objects!

One must mention the priceless heritage consisting of several works of silk, brocade, embroidery made of gold, silver or linen, about 800 pieces of various workmanships and backgrounds. They range from the chasuble of Cardinal Santoro of the sixteenth century to the vestments purchased in the early nineteenth century by the Architect Puja. There are Catanzaro, Venetian and Campania techniques. It is a collection among the most substantial and important in southern Italy.

(Taken from ‘Museo Diocesano Di Arte Sacra Santa Severina – Catalogo delle opere’, text by Pino Barone)