June 21, 2011

Global Seminars & Invited Speaker Series


The Treasure of San Fermín: jewellery for a Saint

D. Ignacio Miguéliz Valcarlos.
Chair of Navarrese Heritage and Art

The so-called Treasure of San Fermín is a collection of silver and jewelry pieces belonging to the Saint that are kept in his chapel located in the church of San Lorenzo in Pamplona. It is a splendid collection of works that chronologically covers jewelry from the XVI century to the XX century. However, the most original and sumptuous pieces all belong to the centuries of the Baroque, when devotion to the saints experienced a strong boom and any work used both in the liturgy and in the adornment of images and chapels was likely to be made in silver.

The pieces kept in the chapel of San Fermín can be divided between silverware and jewelry, the former being differentiated between those made under sponsorship of the City Council of Pamplona, patron saint of the chapel, and those donated by different devotees to the Saint. Those jewels commissioned by the Regiment are easily identifiable thanks to the fact that all of them display among their decoration the heraldic arms of the Pamplona City Council, on the one hand the coat of arms with the passing lion stamped with a crown and bordered with the chains of Navarre, and on the other the emblem of the five wounds.

Within this set of silverware we find a great variety of typologies, from pieces of common use in the liturgy and abundant in the different ecclesiastical trousseaus, such as chalices, ciboria, navetas, censers or cruets, to other more exceptional ones, both for the rarity of their typologies and for their origin or their size. From Pamplona's workmanship it is worth mentioning pieces such as the lecterns made in 1725 or the sacras of José de Yavar in 1774, the latter with a rich iconography with the heraldic arms of Pamplona and Navarre, and the busts of patron saint of the city, San Saturnino, together with those of the kingdom, San Fermín and San Francisco Javier, as well as other more exceptional ones, such as the silver pluvial cape that covers the bust of San Fermín, carved in 1687, the pectoral reliquary that is inscribed on his chest, the work of the artisan Hernando de Oñate el Mayor in 1572, or the two frontispieces carved by Pamplona masters in 1725 and 1733. While from foreign workshops are the Mexican monstrance; the mitre and the silver filigree crosier adorned with tembleques representing flowers and insects of Cantonese workshop and sent by Don Felipe de Iriarte in 1764 through the Manila Galleon; or the set of trays and jars given to the Saint by Don José de Armendáriz y Perurena Marquis of Castellfuerte and Viceroy of Peru in 1730.

More reduced is the issue of jewels integrated in the trousseau of the Saint, although all of them of excellent quality, like a gold chain with a pectoral of emeralds sent by Don José de Armendáriz next to the pieces of silver already described in 1730, a gold chain given in 1757 by Don Nicolás de Urtasun, or a ring with an emerald, sent from Popayán, current Ecuador, by Don Juan Antonio de Zelaya in 1775.

In short, we find an important set of jewels that denote the devotion that the people of Pamplona and Navarre felt for San Fermín, from the City Hall that was in charge of splendidly endowing it for the cult, to faithful devotees who wanted to testify their devotion to the Saint by donating rich jewels.


Lectern. Silver in its color, gilded silver and enamels.

Lectern. Silver in its color, gilded silver and enamels. 1725. Pamplona. Antonio de Ripando? 

Credence. Silver in its color.

Credence. Silver in its color. 1733. Pamplona. Juan Antonio Hernandez

Monstrance. Gilded silver.

Monstrance. Gilded silver. Mexico. 1757.

After the lecture, the attendees were able to visit the Treasury of San Fermin.