Now for sale on eBay: a gold ring from Vatican II — UPDATED

Current bid: $1,440.

It’s unclear just where this comes from, or who wore it  – but the description on eBay indicates it belonged to someone who took part in the Second Vatican Council:

+ This is a near impossible find these days +

+ A solid gold Vatican II “Miter ring” inside the old red case as given out to the Cardinals in attendance of the 2nd Vatican Council 50 years ago +

+ The ring can fit any finger size as it can adjust open and closed +

+ The coat of arms inside the ring matches the coat of arms on the top of the case +

+ These are near impossible to find for any amount of money, here we have one in the original old case +

UPDATE: From Gerard Nadal, who dropped me an e-mail:

Following my archivist’s heart, I called and spoke with the proprietor (on eBay). I asked about the ring’s pedigree. The story is that he acquired a number of liturgical items from a motherhouse of women religious somewhere in the Northeast, sold to him as a lot for a confidential sum. Per agreement with the sisters, the identity of the community is confidential. Along with some fourteen tabernacles, the sisters had four of these solid gold rings (one in a case and three without cases). There were also some silver rings of the same style.

As we spoke, the proprietor told me that a monsignor explained to him that all of the cardinals in attendance received a solid gold ring, and that there were between 1,000 and 2,000 of them given out, and that “lesser people” received the silver rings. I think he must have confused cardinals with bishops, as there were about 113 members of the College of Cardinals when JPII was elected.

However, the story doesn’t add much to the pedigree, and instead opens some further questions. How is it that these sisters came by so many of the rings? Was it common for bishops to gift religious communities with the rings?

The proprietor is selling the silver rings for $395 the unboxed gold for ~$800 and the boxed one for at least $1,400.

So, there’s a bit more to add to the intrigue.

  • http://www.canonlaw.info Ed Peters

    Is there something “cardinatial” about the ring? “Episcopal” would have been more likely.

  • Henry Karlson

    I smell a fraud, but I could be wrong.

  • Deacon Bill

    Ed is correct; I’ve seen one of these before. This was a ring given to ALL the Council Fathers (bishops) at the end of the Fourth Session by pope Paul VI. I conducted many hours of video interviews with one of the last surviving US bishops who attended all four sessions of the Council, and he showed me his “Council” ring on the last day of the interviews.

    It would be fascinating to know which bishop this ring belonged to!

    God bless,
    Deacon Bill

  • Mark

    Whoever (or whatever group) is selling it, I hope no one is profiting from this personally. Am hoping (and assuming) the proceeds are going to a Church charity or school.

  • HMS

    I don’t think so, Henry. My uncle, who attended all four sessions of Vatican II, had such a ring. I am fairly certain that it is buried with him.

    I remember reading somewhere that the bishops were alerted that they would be receiving a commemorative ring from Pope Paul VI and some were concerned that they had not been asked their ring size. Then, lo and behold, it was flexible enough to fit any size. I am curious about the figures on the ring: I think that it is Christ with Peter and Paul on either side.

    The Pope gave each of the non-Catholic observers a bronze bell with the emblems of the four evangelists on it. – a nice ecumenical gesture, I think.

  • Henry Karlson

    I’m not saying such rings were not made; I just know that on ebay, it is easy for fakes to be sold. Without evidence of its history, this is why I feel this ring is suspect.

  • http://www.canonlaw.info Ed Peters

    I’ve seen them too. This looks real.

  • HMS

    Got it, Henry. But the ring in the original box gives it authenticity, I would think. I wonder if it was ever worn?

    On a lighter vein. Someone, I don’t know who, said that the ring reminded him of a cigar band.

  • Deacon Bill

    Actually, HMS, most episcopal rings of that era were made in this way, since bishops still wore gloves at time during the liturgy,and the ring would need to expandable to fit over the gloves, and the reduced to wear on the hand.

    God bless,
    Deacon Bill

  • Sandra

    The box must be big or the ring doesn’t look like it would fit even on my pinkie.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    If you go to the ebay link in the post, Sandra, you’ll see it on a man’s finger.

  • http://imaginemdei.blogspot.com Maggie Duffy

    I went to the seller’s website on eBay and he(?) has what appears to be the contents of more than one church for sale. Everything from pews to tabenacles plus reliquaries (some with relics), vestments, candlesticks, you name it. Makes me sad to see these items for sale like this. I hope that some, at least, will find their way back to a church.

    It also makes me a bit angry because some of these items were also most likely donated by pious individuals and families for use in the church and in the liturgy. That makes me doubly sad as well.

  • http://stokell.us Paul Stokell

    Maggie, then I suggest you steer clear of Cleveland Diocese’s website of “holy swag” for sale to other churches. You name it, they got it, but they only sell to parishes looking for such stuff (newly-built churches, etc.).

  • Mark

    In an earlier posting I wondered out loud who (or what organization) was selling this item, and suggesting that any proceeds be directed to a Catholic charity (a parochial school, for example, or a diocesan “bishop’s fund”).

    If this is a private sale of what had been church items, it makes me wonder how they ended up in private hands and why they are being hawked in this mercenary fashion.

  • HMS

    I wondered about the same thing.

  • Conner

    As far as buying/saving on eBay goes:

    If you see an item that you want listed in auction format, send the seller a message asking if they will accept $x to end the auction early and sell the item to you. May be telling them that they would not have to wait as long to get their money . If that doesn’t work, use a sniping service such as Bidball.com to bid for you. It’ll bid in the last few seconds, helping you to save money and avoid shill bidding.

    If there is a particular item that you want that is relatively rare on eBay or goes fast when one is listed, use ebuyersedge.com to set up a saved eBay search for it. You’d get an e-mail whenever a match is listed. You can use the price, category, exclude word, etc. filters to narrow down the results that you get in the e-mails. Excellent for “Buy It Now”s priced right.

    If the item that you are looking for is difficult to spell, try a misspelling search site like Typojoe.com to hopefully find some deals with items that have main keywords misspelled in the title. Other interested buyers might never see them, meaning a better deal for you.

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  • http://www.sueoconnor.com Sue O’Connor

    It is very interesting to read these comments, as my husband inherited such a ring a good few years ago. It belonged to his Uncle, who was a Bishop in the UK, although he did not become a Bishop until AFTER Vatican II, so it’s a mystery to the family as to how he had the ring in the first place.

    Whilst the ring is identical to that on offer at eBay (which sold for $3550 by the way!) it is in a different box with the maker’s sticker inside (Gammarelli, Roma), and the ring itself is inside a muslin pouch.

    I am delighted to have added a little more information to what we already know about it and I will be sure to show my husband this page.

  • Chrissie

    My husband’s uncle was a Bishop, ordained in the UK many years ago.. He then spent many years in Africa and then returned to the UK some years ago. He was in a place for retired clergy including bishops. While there he became ill. He ended up in hospital where he died. Sadly, when my husband was clearing his few belongings, the ring was nowhere to be found, and indeed he wore one… The hospital? Or where? This is the reason I have just decided to look on e bay to see if someone was selling a bishop’s ring. As my husband is a only child and the only one of his family around, and had a good relationship with his uncle, it is indeed a shame… And shame on the person/ people who ‘maybe’ stole , or removed it from his body…

  • Rick Amaro

    I happened to purchase one of these gold rings about 2-3 years ago (without the box; didn’t know the box was available) and since, have been very intrigued and would like to know more about the ring(s). Any other information would be greatly appreciated.

  • Rick Amaro

    I purchased one of these gold miter rings from e-Bay (without the box; didn’t know the box was available) and have since wanted to know more about the history of these rings; any other information on these rings or a research site would be greatly appreciated!


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