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Brass Rosary Pendant

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Artifact Description

The highly degraded brass rosary pendant discovered on the “Tortugas” wreck depicts the Virgin Mary holding Jesus on one side attended by a second female. The reverse side of the pendant depicts another religious figure presumably identified by the overlying inscription, partly legible as ‘SANTA CATERI--- and ROMA’. The figure is holding an unidentifiable object with a sword to her right. This medallion probably represents St. Catherine of Siena, a 14th-century Dominican nun who had a vision of a mystical marriage with Jesus in the presence of Mary.  

There is no reason to consider the “Tortugas” pendant as anything more significant than a belonging of one of the ship’s non-ecclesiastical passengers or crew. The reference to Rome hints that the owner may have coveted this souvenir as produced in the capital city of the Catholic Church.

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