Bishop Ring

French Bishop Ring Stunning Enamel Gem Amethyst Gold Victorian Antique Jewellery

A bishop ring is not an every day object in our inventory. In the almost 30 years of experience in the antique jewellery trade we can recall to have purchased only two before. (One of them was used in the movie “The Da Vinci code” based on the best seller by Dan Brown. It was worn by Alfred Molino playing the role of Bishop Aringarosa.)

There is something odd about this ring. Not the bishops ring itself but the ring that comes with it. Inside the bishops ring we found a silver ring hidden with in relief a gold wolf. Bishops rings are normally worn on gloves so their size is “a bit larger then normal”. But to find another ring hidden into such ring puzzles us. A hidden ring with a non-Christian motif. What could be the story behind this? Why would a person wearing such ring find it important to hide an extra symbol to this high profile ring and hide it?

This particular ring is set with a huge gem amethyst in a beautiful velvetish dark sparkling color and is elaborately crafted with angels in high relief on both sides. The wings of the angels are enameled in a way that we can recognize as a neo-Egyptian style. Each angel holds a shield, one shield with the Chi Rho sign and the other shield with three letters PSV, most probably the initials of the Bishop.

The Chi Rho is one of the earliest forms of christogram, and is used by Christians. It is formed by superimposing the first two letters in the Greek spelling of the word Christ, chi = ch and rho = r. The Chi-Rho symbol was also used by pagan Greek scribes to mark, in the margin, a particularly valuable or relevant passage; the combined letters Chi and Rho standing for chreston, meaning “good.”

According to “The Church Visible”, by James-Charles Noonan, Jr. (Viking), the bishop’s ring is a sign of authority. In the earlier Code of Canon Law clerics who were not bishops were forbidden to wear rings. As a symbol of episcopal authority the ring first appeared in the third century. By 637 A.D. St. Isidore of Seville would write, “To the bishop at his consecration is given a staff; a ring likewise is given him to signify pontifical honor or as a seal for secrets”. According to Noonan, the bishop’s ring would later also take on the symbolic meaning that he was wedded to the Church. The cardinal’s ring is given by the Holy Father at a Mass following his being named a cardinal.

There is something odd about this ring. Not the bishops ring itself but the ring that comes with it. Inside the bishops ring we found a silver ring hidden with in relief a gold wolf. Bishops rings are normally worn on gloves so their size is “a bit larger then normal”. But to find another ring hidden into such ring puzzles us. A hidden ring with a non-Christian motif. What could be the story behind this? Why would a person wearing such ring find it important to hide an extra symbol to this high profil ring and hide it?

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