Date: Circa 1590-1591
The name Agnus Dei makes reference to certain wax discs with the figure of a Lamb impressed upon them which were consecrated by the Pope in special ceremonies. These discs are often round and sometimes oval-shaped. The figure is generally holding a cross or papal flag, and the reverse side tends to feature saints or other religious scenes.
Agnus Dei were used as items of devotion, hung around necks or left in shrines for adoration. They were often gifted by the Pope to famous people of the era.
The Agnus Dei in question here was crafted during the papacy of Gregory XIV (1590 – 1591). It depicts the resurrection of Christ and is multicoloured – highly unusual as the majority of Agnus Dei are found neither polychromatic, nor preserved in such an original state.
The piece is housed in a glass case and metal ring. This Pope was particularly notorious for his excommunication of King Henry IV of France on the grounds of heresy.