The Collection of Cardinal Sfondrati

The Collection of Cardinal Sfondrati

2012 Restoration Pledge

In the fall of 1599, Cardinal Paolo Emilio Sfondrati (1561-1618) the owner of the Basilica and Monastery of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, undertook the excavation beneath the altar of the presbytery in order to search once again for the relics of St. Cecilia after spending several years of his mandate in the patient search for holy relics and with the permission of Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605).

Here, in a case of cypress wood dating from Papacy of Paschal I (817-824), Cardinal Sfondrati found the remains of the tomb of the Saint Cecilia according to the image of one of the most poetic sculptures by Stefano Maderno (1599). Other relics identified as those of Saints Valerian, Tiburcio and Massimo, are associated with Saint Cecilia and were found in a sarcophagus near the box containing the remains of the Saint. After a solemn religious ceremony, the most important pieces were reburied under the altar. At the request of the Cardinal, smaller pieces were sealed inside appropriate containers and replaced in the chapel where they have remained for over three centuries.

As part of the 1935 restructuring of the convent, these reliquaries were transferred to the Vatican Library. The relics were provided with new containers and returned to the Basilica.

The collection of Sfondrati reliquaries now consists of forty pieces of different styles displayed in four windows of the Room of the Tributes in the Vatican Museums.

Details

Details

Date: 2012
Project Cost: $33,313