Obverse Bust of Giulio Rospigliosi, Pope Clement IX (1667-1669), bearded, in profile to left, wearing cassock, cap, and stole. Around, CLEM . IX . PONT . MAX . A . III . Reverse the two Saints, Peter of Alcantara, left, and Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, right, kneel upon a cloud facing one another, the Holy Spirit above centre. Around, ADDITVM ECCLESIAE MVNIMEN ET DECVS; below, on scrolls, S . PETRVS DE ALCANTARA – S. M. MAGDALENA DE PAZZIS.
This medal commemorating the canonisation (28 April 1669) of the ecstatic mystics Peter of Alcantara (1499-1562), a Spanish Franciscan, and Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi (1566-1607), a Florentine Carmelite, was the annual medal of 1669. The most gifted artist of the day, Gianlorenzo Bernini, supplied the papal medallist, Gaspare Morone Mola, with a modello for the reverse; it is the only known occasion that Bernini was entrusted by Clement IX with design of a papal medal. Bernini did not choose to depict the rites in St. Peter’s, but to show the two Saints in direct communion with the Holy Spirit: “his play of opposites – male and female, active and passive – lends a characteristically baroque tension to the seemingly simple composition. Both iconographically and stylistically Bernini, through Morone as intermediary, has added a new dimension to the medallic repertory”. This superb example from the Michael Hall collection was exhibited in 1981 (Mount Holyoke College Museum of Art; then David and Alfred Smart Gallery, the University of Chicago; and University of Michigan Museum of Art).