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Special Deposit in Lanciano

Special Deposit in Lanciano

Among the not exposed jewels there is one of the most beautiful pieces of the Treasure. It’s a coral branch that probably once hung from the Child’s neck in a very similar way to the sample portrayed in the Altar Piece of the Victory by Andrea Mantegna,1496, kept in Louvre Museum in Paris, or the Madonna di Senigallia painted around 1478 by Piero della Francesca  and currently kept in Galleria Nazionale delle Marche in Urbino, just to give two very famous examples.

According to a Greek myth, the coral was born from the blood drops fallen into the sea from Medusa’s head, which had been cut by the hero Perseus as told by Ovid in his Metamorphoses, and it was only in the 1725 that Jean-André Peyssonnel, French doctor and scientist, exposed his theory according to which the coral “flowers” were just animals similar to actinias, but the discovery was finally recognised only after the half of the following century.

The symbolism of the coral is not as much connected to its colour as to the fact that it presents the rare peculiarity of  gathering in itself the three nature kingdoms, that’s to say the animal, the vegetable and the mineral ones. This is the reason why in the religious iconography, it’s used on the Child’s neck to show his supremacy on the three kingdoms of the Nature Universe.

Neither is to be undervalued his apotropaic value. The coral is in fact considered to be an extraordinary talisman preserving from evil eye and from lightnings; it’s also considered a powerful medicine able to stop bleedings, as a coagulator, and to promote the outflow of evil humours.