The Most Beautiful: Papal Medals. Selected by Kay Ehling

There is hardly a more subjective question than that of the most beautiful coin. We asked Kay Ehling, senior keeper at the Munich State Coin Collection. He selected several medals which will be on display at the exhibition “Glänzende Propaganda. Die metallene Stimme des Papstes” [Shining Propaganda. The Metallic Voice of the Pope.] from 5 May 2020 to 17 January 2021, whose curator he is, too.

The first medal in honour of a Pope was made by Andrea Guazzalotti and commemorates the death of Nicholas V in 1455.

The most important innovation in the history of papal medal production took place under Paul V (1605-1621). He institutionalised the issuing of an annual medal (medaglia annuale), which is still distributed today on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, on 29 June.

Like a magnifying glass, the metal proclamations of these showpieces reflect the event that was of most importance to the Holy See in the respective year. Consequently, they are extremely valuable historical sources. However, they have hardly ever been used for research purposes up to now.


For more information visit the website of the Munich State Coin Collection.