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Items stolen 3 decades ago restored and on display in Vatican Museums


33 years ago, 11 pieces were stolen from a museum in Siena, Italy. In 2020, ten of the pieces were recovered by the police. After collecting them, they were sent to the Vatican Museums to be restored. At an event called, “From the Sword to the Cross”, the Museums unveiled the newly restored objects.

The 10 items included seven chalices, two reliquaries, and a cross. The Reliquary of St. Galgano was the biggest object recovered and is considered to be one of the most precious objects made during the 14th century.  

FR. ENRICO GRASSINI
Director, Cultural Heritage Archdiocese of Siena

They are 10 objects that are not only important from the artistic point of view but they also represent the moral point of view precisely of the protection, enhancement, and preservation of Italy's cultural heritage.
There were attempts to sell them, to scatter them and therefore to take away their dignity as a cultural and also spiritual asset to a Church, a local Church, a diocesan Church, the Church of Siena.

Fr. Grassini says the items were brought to the Vatican Museums due to their excellent restoration facilities and their previous experience working with precious metals and ceramics.

FR. ENRICO GRASSINI
Director, Cultural Heritage Archdiocese of Siena

It is very important because it surely represents first and foremost an object of spiritual value for a local community, that is the diocese of Siena, that has a devotion to St. Galgano, among the great saints in the history of our Sienese Church. The reliquary, however, does not contain the remains of St. Galgano. It has many small bone fragments of different saints.

For Fr. Grassini, the reliquary is a prime example of the unique technique and craftsmanship of the Sienese goldsmiths. 

FR. ENRICO GRASSINI
Director, Cultural Heritage Archdiocese of Siena

We are seeing the finest evidence of the skill of the Sienese goldsmiths and artists, who were working at the time of great artists of the Sienese school—Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti, Ambroggio Lorenzetti—who were called all over Europe especially to the papal court to make these objects in gold and precious metal, decorated with these wonderful enamels that are translucent.

These religious and cultural objects will be on display in the Vatican Museums until February 18, 2023. They will then be returned to their rightful place with the Sienese people.

KG