Lid (from Lidded Box)
Nuestra Señora de Atocha (1622)
This oval, pewter canister with a conforming, molded cap contained an emerald and gold pectoral cross (1986.008.0005) and a gold and emerald ring (1986.008.0006). It may be speculated that this grouping was intended to be a gift for Pope Gregory XV, who was head of the Catholic Church from 1621-1623. At the top of the canister is an inscribed “ABL” monogram, perhaps for Gregory’s given name, Alessandro Ludovisi. Ludovisi was the son of Count Pompeo Ludovisi and Camilla Bianchini, and the initials would then be derived from of his first name, along with the maternal and paternal surnames. Or the monogram could also derive from Alessandro Ludovisi da Bologna, a name he was sometimes called, which referred to his city of birth. Reliquaries of this typical capped-oval form have been in use since the mid-Fifth Century and were often elaborately chased and repousse around the sides with fashionable Christian symbols.