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DOI 10.12887/32-2019-3-127-11



Dominik MAIŃSKI − To Perpetuate the Heritage: The Iconography of Medals Dedicated to St. John Paul II


Cena brutto: 7,00 PLN za szt.

The dominant iconographic motif in the papal medallic art is that of the portrait of John Paul II. Most frequently, the portrait of the Pope is a realistic and static image, placed against a smooth background, without spatial and temporal context. Sometimes the Pope’s portrait appears many times on the medal’s surface. The portrait can be accompanied by images of other people, such as: important personalities, historical heroes, or symbolic figures. The portraits are placed next to each other either without compositional grouping or they are harmonized in a logical correlation. Many medals present scenes in which the figure of the Holy Father is sometimes depicted dynamically. Occasionally, the content of an artistic work has a form of a longer narrative. The portrait is accompanied by additional iconographic elements: the papal coat of arms, religious symbols, as well as elements of architecture and nature. The additional motifs presented can be equally significant as the portrait, emphasize the message, or serve only as decorative elements. The image is complemented with brief inscriptions or longer extracts from the Pope’s speeches. The content of medals is usually easy to interpret owing to a clear selection of motifs. The iconography of papal medals has changed after John Paul II’s death. More and more frequently, his portraits are devoid of realism, fragmentary or blurred. Artists sometimes decide not to include the image of the Holy Father in their works at all, focusing on a synthesis of the pontificate rather than on the actual appearance of the deceased Pope.

Keywords: John Paul II, Holy Father, pope, medal, iconography, portrait, papal coat of arms, cross, Mother of God, altar, architectural motifs, inscriptions, ‘pocket monument’

Contact: Biblioteka Uniwersytecka Katolickiego Uniwersytetu Lubelskiego Jana Pawła II, ul. Chopina 27, 20-023 Lublin, Poland
E-mail: dominik.mainski@gmail.com


Pliki do pobrania:

» mainski.pdf


  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 20.00
  3. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  4. DOI Prefix 10.12887