Roman Monstrance

Roman Monstrance
1992.56.1
Roman craftsman from the Lazio district
Gold and silver plate, crystal, c. early to mid 19th century

Gift of Archbishop Lino Zanini, delegate, Reverenda Fabbrica di San Pietro, who oversaw the Knights of Columbus’ involvement in the restoration of the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica in the mid 1980s.

This monstrance was presented to the Knights of Columbus by the Holy See as a tribute to the organization’s loyalty. The vessel is used to present the Eucharist for public view, most often during the rite of exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The name derives from the Latin term meaning “to show” or “to display,” and originated in the 14th century in France and Germany.

The base, which contains three oval shields, rests on lion paws and depicts scenes from Christ’s Passion. The first shield displays dice, serving as a reminder of those used by Roman soldiers when they cast lots for his seamless cloak, which represents the universality of the Church. The second shield bears two crossed staffs bound by a ribbon. They represent the lance which pierced Christ’s side and the cane with the vinegar-soaked sponge that the soldiers offered Christ to quench his thirst. The third shield displays the Veil of Veronica, or Sacred Face of Christ.

The handle is decorated with palm leaves and supports the Glory, or crystal box. It is surrounded by 16 gilded rays, overlapped by silver clouds and cherubs and surmounted by a Latin-style cross.

The handle is decorated with palm leaves and supports the Glory, or crystal box. It is surrounded by 16 gilded rays, overlapped by silver clouds and cherubs and surmounted by a Latin-style cross.