Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Crown Jewels

by Francis Jason Diaz Perez, III
On 4 April 1906, the Dominican Provincial Superior, Fr. Santiago Paya, OP, embodied the general sentiment of the nation in his petition to the Holy Father requesting authorization for the canonical coronation of the miraculous image of the Santo Rosario - "that the devotion of the Filipino people to the Virgin of the Rosary may increase day by day, that the Blessed Mother of God may be honored, and that the faith, piety and devotion of the Filipino people may flourish.

When His Holiness, Pope [Saint] Pius X, granted the petition, the date of the Canonical Coronation was proclaimed to the nation. The idea captivated the enthusiasm of the people and electrified a million hearts to action. Men and women from all parts of the country, and of all walks of life, whether poor or wealthy, donated their best jewels toward the crowns and the Virgin's regalia. The response was so enthusiastic and wholehearted that in a short time there was sufficient gold and silver and precious stones.

The Santo Rosario wearing the entire Canonical Coronation Regalia in 1907.
Official Portrait taken in 1991.

The stones from the various pieces of jewelry were dismounted, and their gold melted to go into the common project. The Canonical Crowns were designed by Prof. Vicente Rivera y Mir, a young but reputed professor of sketching at Colegio de San Juan de Letran. It was Rivera's artistry that gave form to the common dream of many devotees. Filipino hands, too, cut and shaped the precious stones that would embellish it. This endeavor brought together the famed jewelers of the time, Gregorio Bartolome and the Macario Brothers, to the Santo Domingo Convent in Intramuros where all the work was done. The design was executed by the plateros of La Estrella del Norte.

In the afternoon of the 7th of September, 1907, the Padre Prior of Santo Domingo, received the two crowns, the Father Rector of the University of Santo Tomás, the Dean of Law, the Dean of Medicine, the Dean of Pharmacy, the Secretary General, 9 Law professors, 9 Pharmacy professors, and 18 Medicine professors signed & certified the deed of donation.

From 1907 to 2007, a hundred years after, nothing matched, in importance and in cost, what the entire nation gave for the Coronation of its Queen.

The Corona Canónica of the Santo Rosario was designed by Prof. Vicente Rivera y Mir of the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. The stones were cut & shaped by Gregorio Bartolome and the Macario Brothers. It was later on executed by La Estrella del Norte.

The Corona de la Virgen is wrought from solid gold, of a distinct Gothic style. Its frieze is formed by two bands, the major band supporting a lovely frame composed of a multitude of diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. Vine leaves run along its center in gold, and over them gleam diamond stars. The diadem is made up of a band of diamonds and clusters of other gems. On its sides and back are engraved in relief the escudo of the Philippines, the escudo of the Dominican Order and the anagram of the Blessed Virgin Mary, while the front is enhanced by a rich gem donated by the faculty members of the University of Santo Tomás. From the diadem, eight bands run down in the form of laurel vines, delicately filigreed. In their leaves are ensconced hundreds of pearls of all size. These bands join in the uppert part of the corona, on which rests a globe of solid gold encircled by an equator of diamonds. Over the globe stands a cross, also of diamonds.

A dedicatory inscription was engraved in the underside of the Corona Imperial of the Virgen - Real y Pontificia Universidad de Santo Tomás - Manila - los Profesores a su Patrona la Santísima Virgen del Rosario en su Coronación - 5 de Octubre de 1907.

The Corona Canónica of the Virgen showing the frontispiece donated by the Faculties of the University of Santo Tomás

The frontispiece donated by the University of Santo Tomás is composed of an artistic arrangement of precious stones which, by their diverse colors, represent the different faculties of the University. In the center is a beautiful diamond representing the Faculty of Theology, and around it, as if in tribute, are an emerald, an amethyst, a topaz, a ruby, and two sapphires, emblems of the other teaching staffs. One of the stars in this priceless cluster carries on its reverse side the name of the donor and the date and occasion of the gift.

The Corona Canónica weighs 60 ounces or 1,700 grams of the purest gold and is encrusted with a total of 1,083 precious stones.

The Corona Canónica de la Virgen contains sixty ounces of gold [1,700 grams] without counting the weight of the gems or precious stones. These are numbered and classified as follows: 470 diamonds [336 large & medium, 134 small], 62 sapphires, 61 emeralds, 59 rubies, 11 topazes, 7 turquoise, 1 amethyst, 1 opal, 223 , medium & 49 large pearls, plus the array of gems donated by the Faculty of Santo Tomás. All told, there are a total of 1,083 precious stones on the Virgen's corona alone.

The Santo Niño has something to be proud off too: its made from 21 ounces of 595.34 grams of gold and it contains the following stones: 334 diamonds [198 small, 98 chips, 33 medium, 5 large], 79 sapphires, 28 emeralds, 26 rubies, 7 topazes, 1 heart-shaped emerald, 153 large & small pearls, plus the cluster of gems donated by the Faculty of Santo Tomás similar to the one in the Corona de la Virgen. The number of stones in this crown totals 638.

Solid Gold Aureola of the Santo Rosario

The solid gold aureola of the Virgen is a masterpiece of the goldsmith's art and is encrusted with thousands of precious stones [diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, pearls, etc.]. It is of the same style as the 1811 crown in terms of craftmanship and detail, if it was not made together with it. No other image of the Virgin in the country possesses an aureola that can match or surpass this treasure and masterpiece.

The Dominican cross topped by a corona ducal in the middle was made in time for the 1907 Canonical Coronation. It is also solid gold and is encrusted with diamonds. It was meant to be placed on top of the aureola, as the canonical coronation was indeed a triumph for the Order of Saint Dominic. The next Papal Concession after that would come 17 years after for another Santo Rosario image, the Peñafrancia

Gold rostrillo of the Virgen encrusted with the best heirloom pieces of diamond jewelry in their original settings.

the gold aureola of the Virgin enbeedded with best diamonds in their original settings, mounted en tremblant. The perfection of the craftmanship is clearly obvious and the delicate exectuion of each piece of jewelry, said to have come from the name droppable families at that time.

For security reasons, these pieces are no longer used for processions, they have to be removed before the Virgin is brought down and replaced with the Sienna crown or regalia. Its quite difficult to remove this as you have to remove the manto of the Virgen to be able to and this takes time and a lot of effort. And so also for practical reasons, the rostrillo of the Sienna crown is worn as the Coronas and the Aureola can easily be replaced.

According to the chronicles of the Santo Rosario as soon as it was enthroned in Santo Domingo in 1593, it already proved "miraculous" so much so that its devotees showered it with jewels and precious embroidery. The high point came in 1646 with the victories of La Naval de Manila and the years after when donations poured even more.

Somewhere in the pool, is an engraving by Laureano Atlas of how the Santo Rosario appeared in 1759, i.e. instead of gold embroidery, jewels are sewn unto her frontal, that she was literally covered with it from head to foot. The accumulation from the late 1590's to the British Invasion were looted by the British, who also inflicted serious damage on the two images.

Nonetheless, the people were undaunted and donations kept on coming. Some where lost in the earthquakes & fires which destroyed the previous Santo Domingos.

The surviving pieces, together with the recent donations given at that time were mounted on the 1811 Crowns, actually a set.

When it was announced that the Queen of the Philippines was to be canonically crowned, the Junta de Gobierno, or the organizing committee, made a public appeal, the first time in the history of the country, apparently the only one, to this day, for donations of gold and precious stones. This further enriched her treasury.

The Coronation Regalia of 1907 & Jewels as well as the 1811 Regalia is the one that is preserved to this very day.

With the transfer of the Santo Rosario in 1954, jewelry was still the preferred offering to the Santo Rosario even in the modern era. A substantial number of pieces were accumulated that there was no need to bring out the coronation jewels for the annual fiesta.. A cache of these, that was used by the Santo Rosario was lost with the death of Fr. Augusto Antonio, OP in 1981...

Thereafter new ones are lent or given to the Santo Rosario for her gala. We we're lucky enough that in 1997, on the occasion of the 90th year of her Canonical Coronation, the Santo Rosario wore some of my mother's heirloom jewels, in its new settings, some of which came all the way from her grandmother. In the same year also when Nick Joaquin gave his medal of the Ramon Magsaysay award, we had it encased in a gold frame complete with precious stones so that it can be mounted on the peana of La Gran Señora.

It is something that we treasure in our hearts to have been part of this enduring tradition.

1 comment:

amilgaoul08 said...

pang special occasions lang ba nilalabas yung aureola at rostrillo niya?nung nagppunta ako sa sto. domingo last wednesday, June 9 iba yung gamit niyan accessories. pero nung nakita ko yung replica sa museum doon parang gamit yung canonical aureola at rostrillo...