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Vatican

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The unseen treasure of St. Gennaro is exhibited for the first time outside of Naples

2013-11-10

Experts say these zaphires, emeralds and diamonds are worth more than Queen Elizabeth's crown. They're gifts that pilgrims have offered to St. Gennaro, the patron saint of the Italian city of Naples, throughout history. Now, Rome opens this treasure to the world in a never-before seen exhibition.

Among these 90 pieces of art, this necklace is one of a kind. One could say it's worth even more than its "weight in gold.”

PAOLO JORIO
Director of the Museum of the St. Gennaro Treasure
"This jewelry, particularly the St. Gennaro necklace, tells a 300 year-old story of Europe. Every king or queen who has gone through Naples or governed over the city, has donated something. It's an extraordinary object that represents the story of Europe.”

It's not only kings and popes who have offered something to the saint. Two hundred years ago, these pearls belonged to a young peasant woman. Even though it was her only possession, she offered them to St. Gennaro for saving her from the plague. That's why these gems are more than just jewels. Each one represents a story or a legend. 

CIRO PAOLILLO
Expert Gemologist
"Gemology can tell stories. You must consider that every stone tells the story of our world, because at its core, it contains other precious fragments. And based on those and also on the carving, we can know for certain the mine from where it came from.” 

Also, this collection is one of the few treasures that have remained intact through wars, plagues, and even from Napoleon himself.

PAOLO JORIO
Director of the Museum of the St. Gennaro Treasure
"This is one miracle among miracles. The Bonaparte family didn't keep anything, but instead they donated. They've given a lot to St. Gennaro!”

And this treasure has become more than just a memory of past glories. It is, and will always be, living proof of the love and devotion for a town's saint.


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