Designs for Papal Coins or Medals for Pope Gregory XIII

Anonymous, French, 18th century French

Not on view

Engraving with 20 designs for Papal Coins or Medals, each numbered above with Roman numerals from 41 to 60, and most of them with engraved inscriptions in Latin, with a variety of motifs related to Pope Gregory XIII (1502-85). Born Ugo Boncompagni, he studied law in his hometown of Bologna and graduated in 1530. He was elected Pope in 1572, and from that moment became recognized as a model for his simplicity of life, and for his legal brilliance and management abilities that allowed him to deal with major projects quickly and decisively. He participated in the Council of Trent and was committed to implementing its recommendations, and dedicated to the reform of the Church. He was also known for founding numerous seminaries for training priests, as well as his liberal patronage of the recently founded Society of Jesus. A leader of the Counter-Reformation, he is said to have been one of the strongest supporters of King Phillip II of Spain in his quest to dethrone English Queen Elizabeth I, in his fight against Protestantism. Pope Gregory XIII is best known for his reformation of the calendar, correcting the Julian calendar with the aid of the Neapolitan astronomer and physician Luigi Lilio Ghiraldi and the German Jesuit and mathematician Christopher Clavius, and replacing it, since 1582, with the now widely adopted Gregorian calendar.

This engraving contains a set of designs for Papal Coins related to Pope Gregory XIII, possibly meant to be paired to form the obverse and reverse of the stamped coin. Papal Coins are part of the Pope's regalia, or sovereign prerogatives, and are produced by the Papal Mint, the Pope's institute for the production of hard cash. This set of designs for Papal Coins contains several profile portraits of Pope Gregory XIII and several buildings that he was associated to. Some of the coins contain inscriptions that celebrate his patronage of the Society of Jesus, as well as the implementation of the new Gregorian calendar.

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