I’d like to share an unusual artifact that sent me down a rabbit hole of esoteric Catholicism. I’ve been researching it for awhile now and everything about it seems to have some degree of symbolism or purpose. I’ll get into that more in other posts but I wanted to give a quick overview first.
One side of the locket is inscribed with MARIA. To the best of my knowledge, this is a Marian monogram for the Virgin Mary. The position of the letters MRA take on more significance in the symbol and refer to the Latin words, ‘ Maria Regina Angelorum ‘, meaning ‘Mary, Queen of the Angels’. Below the monogram is the wounded heart of the virgin, with flames emitting from the top as a metaphor for the passionate love of Christ. The other side of the locket is inscribed with the IHS Christogram, referring to the holy name of Jesus. This has also been used as the insignia for the Jesuit order.
Inside the locket, it contains a parchment that is probably 200-300 years old. The first paper has several woodcut images that are pasted on top of the parchment. There are several Saints at the top and bottom of the page. A couple of the woodcuts have started to separate from the parchment and contain a cloth underneath. I’ve been told the cloths are likely 3rd class Relics (aka touched Relics). I’ve only checked the one’s that were already starting to lift up and each of them contains a cloth, so it’s likely the others probably do as well.
But here’s where things start to become harder to explain.. the woodcut image at the center of the page is pasted on top of a very old Latin prayer from the Inquisition in Turin, with IHS and MRA Monograms at the top . It probably dates much older than the woodcut images and would have been issued during the Reformation Era. With translation from Latin, it has Prayers payers against “curses, evil spirits, and attacks” and it has a very unusual collage that is fused into the center of the page, with what looks like an old resin. The paper is dowsed with oil and looks like it may have been ceremonially constructed.
So the collage raises many questions. The elements fused into the resin appear to be something other than “touched Relics”, but it would also be very unusual if the locket was intended to be a reliquary. With that said, there appears to be the old remnants of a old wax seal at each of the corners and it also has four cloths with a Saints name written in Latin on each of them. However, the Council of Trent (1545-1563) made rules for encasing relics and I’ve been informed that the locket would not qualify. Perhaps it was made before the council was formed? If not, why does it contain all of these indications of being from the church? And if so, why all the esoteric symbolism?