Sistus V

Sistus V and art

Portraits of the Montaltese Pope are scarce and, for this reason, their value, rather than artistic, is to give us at least one image of Felice Peretti. In his most famous portrait, by an unknown painter from the Marche region, he is represented with the cardinal’s trappings and a severe expression, worthy of the “Tough Pope”. The ceremonial chair shows at the top,on the right, the three mounts (trimonium) surmounted by a star, symbols of the ancient coat of arms of Montalto.

The charismatic figure of Sistus V was a source of inspiration for Pericle Fazzini (1913 – 1987), a very important sculptor and artist of the twentieth century, author of the “Resurrection” now located in the Nervi Room in the Vatican. Pericle Fazzini, who also shares his birthplace with the Pope – both were born in Grottammare (AP) – dedicated his last bronze sculpture to Sistus V. The work was inaugurated on 23 November 1986 and still installed at the entrance to Montalto. The Sistine profile is recognizable in the sculpture and is characterized by the modernity and avant-garde with which is integrated into the artwork: it is a light and airy figure that dominates a mobile structure that rotates on itself, resulting in ever-changing profiles during the different hours of the day. The artist describes it as “an informal shape, like a cloud that encloses the profile of Sistus V”.

The most valuable artistic legacy left in Montalto dates back to the second year of the Sistine pontificate, when the Pope, as a demonstration of his affection for his town, donated to “the beloved children of the community and men of the land of Montalto” the very precious reliquary, at the base of which he engraved “To Montalto, beloved Homeland”. This masterpiece of Parisian goldsmith art from the end of the 14th century, created in the court of Charles VI (the mad king), it contains 8 relics, including a piece of the holy cross, pearls, rubies, amethysts and sapphires. The reliquary was sent to Montalto as a “means of protection, a trusty weapon to repel enemies, a sacred bond to reconcile and maintain peace between citizens, a heavenly remedy to keep epidemics and any other disease away, a very certain trust to achieve all heavenly goods and land “. The citizens of Montalto have always proudly defended the precious gift, so much so that in 1796 it was excluded from the Church property to be exported to meet the commitments imposed on the papacy by Napoleon. Bishop Marcucci testifies to this, writing in Rome: “The reliquary cannot be touched without serious scandal and great tumult, so much so that for a single fear or suspicion that it could be stolen at night, the cathedral was surrounded by armed people… “. In 2004, it left Montalto to be loaned to the Louvre as part of a major exhibition on the Parisian goldsmith art at the time of Charles V, whereafter, obviously, it returned to Montalto where it is still jealously kept.