This small, nine centimeter plaque holds a much greater significance than its size. It is a reminder for those who complete the Jubilee of Mercy, but its history goes back to the Middle Ages.
"It was a medal, a plate, that the canons of St. Peter gave the pilgrims when they came to Rome in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It was proof that they had made the pilgrimage to Rome. So, the pilgrims brought it back to their countries of origin to prove that the trip had been met."
It spread throughout Rome during the pontificate of Pope Innocent III. This was how he was able to quickly identified the pilgrims, as would happen with those who went to the other holy cities like Santiago and Jerusalem.
The replica keeps all four rings along the sides of the plaque, that were once used in ancient times, as a latch to for pilgrims to wear on their clothing. Therefore, distinguishing them. The present replica is shaped in the form of a brooch pin.
These rectangular plaques or 'testimonium' are official replicas of a historic pilgrimage.
On one side, the images of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul are seen with a legend in Latin. However, there have been other printed copies with more images.
Staff, Vatican Library
"These plaques were dedicated to the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. They used to bare the face of Jesus, usually called 'Veronica,' or also the image of the Scala Santa or the Holy Door.”
In showcasing this plaque in Rome, the heads of the Vatican Library, which houses the jewel, recalled the powerful meaning of the piece.
MSGR. JEAN-LOUIS BRUGUÉS
Archivist and Librarian,Vatican Library
"The pilgrim was not a mere traveler, but a traveler who left their homeland aware of travel fatigue and the dangers involved. The pilgrims were traveling on foot walking 30 to 40 kilometers a day, through even dangerous areas.”
The replica of the current plaque can already be purchased in many churches all over Rome and will soon become available abroad.