Room III


The third room exhibits some works related to the passion of Christ:

At the end of the room there is an altar furnishing, comprising a crucifix, six candlesticks and four vases with flowers, in gilded copper and painted wood.  Especially admirable are the double-handed vases, decorated with bunches of grapes and winged cherub heads, to which flower garlands in partially gilded silver are attached.  The artist’s expertise is visible in the exquisite details of  the various different kinds of flowers; roses, anemones, tulips, carnations, both in bud and fully-blown.  C. 17.

fascia-1In the middle of the wall there is an altar cross, in melted and carved silver, with some detail in gilded copper. It shows Christ Crucified surrounded by flying angels holding the symbols of the Passion. The triangular base is enriched by male figures holding the vase shaped foot of the cross, decorated with some acorn garlands and a medallion depicting the Virgin Mary of the Assumption. It was made in 1711 by a silversmith from Messina.

In the central show case there are some of the most ancient works in the museum:

A processional cross, in silver leaf embossed and worked on a wooden core. The cross portrays the crucified Christ with the Virgin Mary on His left, the Archangel Michael above Him and St. John the Evangelist on His right.  At the feet of Jesus is Mount Golgotha, also called “the place of the skull”.

fascia-2A Greek inscription above Christ’s head reads: Jesus Christ / King of Glory.  There are several circular depressions on the back of the cross, possibly once used to hold gemstones or relics, which are no longer present. On the reverse side is a praying Madonna, in Byzantine icon style, and the four Evangelists on either side; the background is decorated with plant tracery, also showing a Byzantine influence.  C.12-13.

A gilded silver chalice decorated with 36 translucent enamels. The chalice, as referred by an inscription on the knot, was commissioned by Soru Stefania Rufula, a nun belonging to the order of St. Clare, probably around 1348. It was created by Giovanni di Ser Jacopo from Florence, in Naples. At the time he was the royal goldsmith of the Queen Joanna I of Naples. There are many references to the Franciscan spirituality such us the enamelled figures of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Clare in the knot. The enamel on the base represent: Our Lady of Sorrows, Christ Crucified, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint John the Baptist. In different parts of the chalice some symbolic water birds are depicted and among them the pelican, symbol of Christ.

fascia-3A gilded silver chalice, donated by Filippo Crispo, Archbishop of Messina from 1392 to 1402. The chalice has an octagonal base and presents a decoration with red and blue enamel. They present leafy branches and relief figures of several Saints and Christ on the Cross. In the stem of the chalice some nails, symbols of the Passion of Christ, and the coat of arms of the prelate are engraved. C.14-15.

A golden monstrance with a complex architectural structure.  It has an octagonal base, decorated with five circular enamel depicting episodes from the Old and New Testaments: the Last Supper, the Supper at Emmaus, David taking the Holy Ark to Jerusalem, Elijah with the angel and Isaac ready for sacrifice.  The only scene made of melted and embossed gold represents Melchisedek offering bread and wine to Abraham.

ostensorio-oroultima-cenaFour arms rise from the corners of the base. Four gilded bronze angels stand on them, facing towards the centre in order to pray and worship the Holy Sacrament.

The monstrance’s stem is particularly complex: the central element rises on four lion paws; it is decorated with gold and enamelled winged heads. Above it is an oval knot with four more Biblical scenes in enamel: Joseph and his brothers in Egypt, Moses striking water from the stone, Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness and Samson drinking from the ass’s jaw after killing the Philistines.  Above this knot, a ring with a cameo represents the Sacred Heart of Jesus, framed with diamonds. The radiant crown is decorated with red enamel. The receptacle is adorned with a frame of diamonds. The monstrance was probably made by Giuseppe Bruno, messinese goldsmith specialised for enamelled works, C.17.