The Ceiling Of Canterbury Cathedral. (Wikimedia Commons .

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The ceiling of Canterbury Cathedral. (Wikimedia Commons). Inset: Reverse of a gold-plated silver medallion issued in 1970 (Collection of St John’s Cathedral).URRENTLY in St John’s AnglicanCathedral in Brisbane there is asmall display of pilgrim badges and souvenirs associated with Saint ThomasBecket. (Figure 1) He was the arch-CFigure 1 – St Thomas Becket in a stained-glasswindow in Canterbury Cathedral. (WikimediaCommons)bishop who was murdered in 1170 inCanterbury Cathedral. (Figure 2) Pilgrim badges are rare but more are beingfound as metal detectorists are covering large areas in England and Europe.Also pilgrim badges are being found bypeople searching the muddy banks of theThames and other rivers.Although they are often broken andin poor condition they are fascinatingFigure 2 – Canterbury Cathedral on a bronze token issued by the city of Canterbury in 1794. It is 29mms in diameter. The coat of arms of Canterbury is on the reverse. (Collection of St John’s Cathedral)

objects because each one was bought bya pilgrim who travelled a considerabledistance to a place recognized as a sourceof spiritual power. The pilgrim then worethe badge proudly on his cap or cloak toshow that he had been to that place. Inmodern times if the find-spot of the badgehas been recorded it tells us where thepilgrim probably came from. So, not onlydoes the badge tell us about the place hehad visited it tells us about the pilgrim.If he was poor he would have boughta small pewter badge. (Figures 3 and 4)Pewter is an alloy of tin and lead, and itwas of little value. If he was rich hemight have bought a large silver badge.Also the badge tells us what holy objectsthe pilgrim saw; for example, a badge inthe shape of a glove (Figures 5 and 6)indicates that he saw the gloves of StThomas. They would have been on display in a glass case and the pilgrim wouldhave pressed his badge against it to capture some of its spiritual power. A badgein the shape of a fleur-de-lis (Figure 7)indicates that the pilgrim had veneratedthe statue of the Virgin Mary in the cryptFigure 3 – Pewter head of St Thomas probablyfrom the 14th century. The badge is 24 mms inlength. (Collection of St John’s Cathedral)under Canterbury Cathedral known asOur Lady Undercroft. It should not beconfused with St Mary Undercroft whichis a chapel in the Palace of Westminster.In the Tale of Beryn written in the 15thcentury the activities of the pilgrims atCanterbury are described:They all prayed to St Thomas in suchwise as they could. And then the holyrelics kissed, each man as he should,while a goodly monk told them thenames of every one. . . Then as theusual custom is, pilgrim’s signs theybought; for men at home should knowwhat saint the pilgrims here hadsought.Although the pronoun ‘he’ has beenused for the pilgrim many of them werewomen. In the band of pilgrims describedFigure 7 – Pewter fleur-de-lis probably from the15th century. It is 19 mms in length. (Collectionof St John’s Cathedral)Figure 5 – Pewter glove of St Thomas probablyfrom the 14th or 15th century. The badge is 25mms in length. (Collection of St John’s Cathedral)Figure 8 – A shell was the sign of a pilgrim.Figure 4 – Pewter head of St Thomas in a circleprobably from the 15th century. Originallythere were two swords. The badge is 16 mmsin diameter and is unusual in still having itspin. (Collection of St John’s Cathedral)Figure 6 – Drawing of the glove in Figure 5. Hisepiscopal ring is shown on his little finger buthe would have worn it on his middle or ringfinger over his glove.Figure 9 – Silver penny of King Henry II.(Collection of St John’s Cathedral)

in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales which waswritten in the 1390s there was a prioressand the wife of Bath. The pilgrims wereall very different as were their reasons forgoing on a pilgrimage. For some it wouldhave been like a vacation; for others itwould have been the camaraderie thatattracted them. Some would have beenescaping from a situation at home. Butall would have been on a quest expectingsomething more than the mundane worldthey left behind.From the 12th to the 16th centurypeople commonly made pilgrimages toholy places, and Canterbury, Rome andSantiago de Compostela in Spain wereparticularly popular destinations. Someadventurous souls even made the dangerous journey to Jerusalem. The tombof St James, who was one of Jesus’ disciples, was thought to be in the cathedralat Santiago de Compostela (Saint Jamesof Star Field) and his symbol was a shell.(Figure 8) Pilgrims who had been therewore shell badges, but the shell becamethe general symbol of anyone who was apilgrim.At some holy sites pilgrims could buysmall vessels, usually of lead, that con-Figure 10 – The murder of Thomas Becket illustrated on a manuscript in the British Library. Itdates from about 1200 and is the oldest picture of the event. (Wikimedia Commons)Figure 12 – Front of a pewter ampulla containingthe blood of St Thomas Becket, much diluted.(Collection of St John’s Cathedral)Figure 11 – View of St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane.Figure 13 – Back of the ampulla in Figure 12.

Figure 14 – Drawing of the sceneon the ampulla in Figure 12.Figure 15 – Drawing of the sceneon the ampulla in Figure 13.tained water from a well on the site oreven some of the soil from the site. Thesevessels are called ampullas. At Canterbury Cathedral a pilgrim could buy anampulla containing Thomas Becket’sblood, much diluted. In 1170 Thomas hadopposed the king, Henry II (Figure 9), onvarious church matters, and whenHenry was in his castle in France heremarked, “Will no one rid me of thisturbulent priest?” He was overheard byfour of his knights who set off for Canterbury. The scene in the cathedral is shownon a manuscript from about 1200 in theBritish library. (Figure 10) It shows theknights attacking Thomas with theirswords. One knight splits open his skull.The knights then leave the cathedraland Thomas lies dead with his brains andblood spilling out on the stone floor. Themonks carefully scoop it all up and putit in a large vessel. Then they dilute itwith water so that pilgrims can buy smallampullas containing the holy fluid. Tomeet the demand they keep topping it upwith water.One of these ampullas is on display inSt John’s Cathedral. (Figure 11) Theampulla dates from the 13th centuryand was found on the banks of theThames at London in the 1970s. (Figures 12 and 13) On one side it shows aknight striking Thomas with a sword inthe cathedral. (Figure 14) On the otherside the resurrected Thomas stands (withhis skull split open) and blesses theviewer with his right hand. (Figure 15)These ampullas are found on the banksof the Thames because it was a customto throw the empty ampulla into the riveras an offering to God. The pilgrim mighthave poured the precious liquid onto aspecial place or object to make it holy orhe might have used it for medicinal purposes. On some ampullas there are theLatin words OPTIMVS EGRORVMMEDICVS FIT TOMA BONORVM(Thomas is the best doctor of the worthysick) which suggest that only the trulydevout could expect to benefit from it.In 1970 to mark the 800th anniversaryof Thomas’ martyrdom a gold-plated

Figure 16 – Obverse of a gold-plated medallion issued in 1970. (Collection of St John’sCathedral)Figure 17 – Reverse of the medallion in Figure 16.sterling-silver medallion was producedin England. It is also on display in StJohn’s Cathedral. On one side Thomasstands and blesses with his right handas he does on the ampulla although hewears a mitre to cover his split skull.(Figure 16) On the other side threeknights are attacking Thomas (Figure17) and the style of the picture has beencopied from the oldest known picture ofthe event which is shown in Figure 10.In England other popular destinationsfor pilgrims were St George’s Chapel inWindsor and Walsingham in Norfolk.Although St George is the patron saintof England little is known about him.He was probably a historical figure, asoldier who was executed when he refused to renounce his Christian faithand sacrifice to the Roman gods duringthe persecution under the emperor Diocletian in 303 AD. Subsequently a legenddeveloped that he killed a dragon thatwas about to devour a maiden, and he isusually portrayed on horseback spearing the dragon. (Figure 18) He becamevery popular during the Crusades because the dragon was perceived as representing the Muslims trying to capturethe maiden, Jerusalem. St George wasassociated with Windsor because relicsassociated with him were kept there.They included his heart which had beengiven in 1416 by Sigismund of Luxembourg who was the Holy Roman Emperorfrom 1433 to 1437. Many pilgrims travelled to Windsor particularly in the late15th and early 16th centuries and badgesshowing St George spearing the dragonare common. Nowadays, of course, StGeorge’s Chapel is within the royal castleat Windsor. In the collection of St John’sCathedral there is the right half of asquare pewter badge showing St Georgespearing the dragon. (Figure 19) It isnot currently on display.Also in the collection of St John’sCathedral there is a lead ampulla fromWalsingham where there used to be amedieval priory. (Figure 20) On theFigure 19 – Part of a pilgrim badge probablyfrom the 15th century showing St Georgespearing a dragon. It is 49 mms in length.(Collection of St John’s Cathedral)Figure 18 – Medallion of Pope John XXIII showing St George killing a dragon. It is 51 mms indiameter and is in high relief. (Collection of St John’s Cathedral)Figure 20 – Lead ampulla from Walsinghamprobably from the 15th century. It is 45 mmsin length. (Collection of St John’s Cathedral)

ampulla there is ‘the long arrow ofWalsingham’ with its tip in the form ofa double V. The outer V is thought tostand for Virgo, which is Latin for ‘virgin’and refers to the Virgin Mary who wasvenerated at Walsingham. The arrowpoint in the V represents the conceptionof Jesus Christ. The ampulla is whitebecause it is coated with lead oxide, andcollectors of lead artefacts are remindedthat lead oxide causes lead poisoning andthey should be careful in handling them.These ampullas are often found discardedin fields in Norfolk because the pilgrimwould open the ampulla, sprinkle theholy water on his fields to increase fertility, and then just throw it away.At Walsingham there are the ruins ofthe priory, and the shrine (a replica ofMary’s house at Nazareth) has beenreconstructed; but for no particular reason Walsingham is considered to be oneof the ‘thin places’ of Britain. Pilgrimswho go there feel that the barrier separating the material from the spiritualworld is weak and they become strangelyaware of the presence of God. Consequently thousands of pilgrims still makethe pilgrimage to Walsingham every year.Recently two excellent books have beenpublished on the subject of pilgrimbadges and souvenirs, but the large catalogue by Michael Mitchiner, MedievalPilgrim & Secular Badges, published in1986, remains essential for collectors. In2010 a new edition of Brian Spencer’sPilgrim Souvenirs and Secular Badgeswas published. It is a catalogue but alsohas a wealth of relevant information.Subsequently Michael Lewis’ Saintsand their Badges was published. It dealsmore with the lives of the saints but anumber of badges are illustrated.Although pilgrim badges are usuallybroken and in poor condition, this actually adds to their appeal and it meansthey are more likely to be authentic.Items in good condition should raisesuspicion. Being in a sorry state meansthat each one has a special tale to tellfrom a time when nobody doubted thatthere was more to human existence thanjust the material world. When a Christian holds one of these badges he knowshow the wearer felt on his pilgrimage,which was essentially a quest to find thesource of what was behind the gloriousmystery of creation. For the medievalpilgrim, as for pilgrims today, it was thejourney that mattered not the destination, because the journey represented hisseeking to be closer to God.There you will worship man-madegods of wood and stone. But if fromthere you seek the LORD your God,you will find him if you look for himwith all your heart and with all yoursoul. (Deuteronomy 4:28, 29. NIV) KING MARIA THERESA OF HUNGARYPINK’S NYINC Numismatic Collector’s Sale in January was flush withrare, high grade gold 10 ducats and similar-sized, contemporary gold medals.One such was an extraordinary rarity: a34.66 g medal of Empress Maria Theresastruck to mark her coronation as King ofHungary.The new King was crowned in 1741 inthe town of Pressburg (Bratislava) thenpart of the Kingdom of Hungary. No Queencould rule Hungary and to appease thosewho considered her gender created aserious obstacle to her coronation MariaTheresa simply assumed the necessarymasculine titles of King and Archduke.The coronation was conducted by theArchbishop of Esztergom in the cathedralof St Martin using the ancient Holy Crownof Hungary. Having done so the Archbishop proclaimed Maria Theresa as ‘RexHungariae’ (King of Hungary) - despitewhat Wikipedia says!SKing Maria Theresa wearing the Holy Crown ofSt Stephen and wielding his sword proclaimsher intent to protect the Kingdom of Hungaryand its subjects thereby completing her coronation ceremony in 1741. Image courtesyWikipedia.That was merely the first part of thereligious ceremony. The second is shownon the reverse of commemorative medalsstruck for the occasion. These include smallsilver jetons thrown to the crowds liningthe route of the coronation procession asit progressed through the city.Larger and rarer commemorativemedals were the work of Andreas Vestner.The obverse bears a draped bust of thenew sovereign. The reverse shows her onhorseback, wearing the Holy Crown ofHungary and wielding the Sword of StStephen. This was the essential secondand public part of the coronation.It required a new sovereign to mounta charger and ride through the city brandishing the Holy Sword. They wouldgallop to the top of a mound in themain square in full view of the citizens.Here they held the sword aloft and usedit to point to the four corners of the kingdom while proclaiming their intent toprotect the kingdom and its subjects.Only at this moment did both the nobility and the people acknowledge theirnew king.Maria Theresa was well aware of theimportance of this ceremony. She hadspent months honing the necessaryequestrian skills to ensure the ceremonywent flawlessly.Vestner’s medals turn up occasionallyin silver but are hardly ever found ingold. The Spink cataloguer checked theholdings of most of the great medalliccollections of the late 19th and early20th centuries. No example in gold couldbe located. Nor could one be foundamong the superb collection of medals ofthe Holy Roman Empire formed by Elizabeth Percy, Duchess of Northumberlandin the 18th century.This golden rarity came graded EF. Ona modest estimate of US 12,000-15,000it made a very comfortable US 57,000[A 80,391].Dr K. A. Rodgers Extremely rare in gold: 1741 coronation medal struck for Marie Theresa as King of Hungary.In EF it sold for 80,391. Image courtesy & Spink 2019.

CURRENTLY in St John’s Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane there is a small display of pilgrim badges and sou - venirs associated with Saint Thomas Becket. (Figure 1) He was the arch - bishop who was murdered in 1170 in Canterbury Cathedral. (Figure 2) Pil-grim badges are rare

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