The Treasure of Madonna del Ponte, exhibited in the second room of the Diocesan Museum is an heritage of very high value, both economically and culturally.
Moved, for obvious reasons of security, into a bank vault after the earthquake that, in the 80s, damaged the Cathedral structures in such a deep way that it was decided to keep it closed for over ten years, this fantastic set of precious objects has finally come back, thanks to the commitment of Lanciano-Ortona Archdiocese and of the Bishop at that time, Mons. Enzio d’Antonio, to be admired by people and to regain its original function; testifying to the constant veneration of Lancianese people for their Saint Patron.
The nucleus of the most ancient jewels is constituted of fantastic pieces from the 17th and the 18th centuries while, among the ones from the later centuries, it’s particularly worth noting the presence of a very interesting set of precious ornaments connected to the Abruzzo traditions.
The most ancient jewel in the collection is a pendant, dated 1601, in gilded silver with a large rock crystal flanked by four rubies. The pendant must have been completed with some pearls. It can be connected to a very common fashion in the century before the date impressed, and could be also identified as an element of the necklace that was offered to Madonna del Ponte by the Marchioness of Ugni.
It’s a very popular typology testified both in artworks present in the Museum, as Saint Apollonia by Francesco Maria Renzetti (1711 – doc. 1751) that has a very similar element on the breast and on the head, and in much more famous paintings of the Italian art history. The number of jewels datable to 18th century is much higher; among them there are many “corset ornaments” very different for dimensions and style, as for example the three fine samples decorated with rubies mounted on a delicate interlaced design of arabesques. It’s a typical 18th century jewel, intended to fasten the corset laces on the breast. The pendant is generally constituted of a big ribbon or a butterfly holding a drop-shaped pendant, in turn holding a cross-shaped third element. Another very nice and even more refined example of this typology is kept in the Treasure of Santa Maria Maggiore, while other similar samples are to be found also in London in the Victoria and Albert Museum collection, as the long emerald pendant composed of as many as fifteen German manufacture elements.
The showy emerald corset pendant is instead the result of the assembly of two earrings commonly called “girandole” (pinwheels), made of a central element with three drop-shaped pendants, and other elements added to obtain an extraordinary set.
This type of earring, inspired by the branched candleholder decorated with crystals and really widespread in the 17th -18th centuries, has represented one of the great classics of jewellery; it was probably the extreme weight of the two pinwheel earrings that led to their transformation and thus to the birth of one of the most wonderful pieces of the Treasure.