Early Bronze Holy Cross Re-formed Convent - Bollene, France
An interesting early bronze hand seal, of traditional vessica form with twin fins on the reverse, the matrix nicely engraved with a fascinating series of items depicting the Holy Cross including ladder, fallen nails, spear, superscription and pincers - all reminiscent of the Passion, including skull and crossbones on the rock foreground ("the place of a skull....Golgotha, St John 19, v.17) with circumscription reading:
SIGI * CON * SANTE * CRVCIS * REFORMATORV * BOLENA*
Although some conjecture is required, it appears that this seal relates to a medieval Franciscan priory of St Martin in Bollene; how it was sacked by Protestant forces (and the friars hurled to their deaths) in 1562; how the next year it was retaken by Catholic forces - though the church was not rebuilt until 1579 and not reoccupied by Franciscans until 1606; in 1569 a confraternity of "White Penitents" was authorised in the town; two convents (one Ursulines, the other Blessed Sacrament Sisters) - in 1794, 23 of the nuns were guillotined at Orange. The inscription REFORMED probably suggest a monastery which had been re-established and it is assumed that CON is short for Conventus.
An interesting seal with some unclear parts to its history but deserving further research to establish its full story.
Diameter of matrix 32mm x 49mm