A journey to the Venice of the Doges

The Doge Pasquale Cicogna’s donation act to Pope Sixtus V

Vatican Secret Archives – Archivum Arcis Arm. I-XVIII, 1302

Chosen for its special value among those conserved and relative to the Veneto area, the original parchment dated 1586 has been kept in the Vatican Archives safe for centuries.

This document (archives reference A.A., Arm. I-XVIII, 1302) was offered by the Venetian Doge Pasquale Cicogna (1585-1595), brave man of business and arms, Duke of Candia and Rector of Cyprus, in the name of the Serenissima Senate to Pope Sisto V, as magnificent residence of its “orator” in the Venetian Government, the palazzo owned by the Gritti family, previously residence of Doge Andrea Gritti (1533-1538), “in contrata Sanctae Iustinae, penes ecclesiam Sancti Francisci super Campo” where the Papal Nuncio lived in Venice (in just a small part).

The golden seal of Doge Pasquale Cicogna is joined to the document by a red silk thread run through with gold threads.

For centuries kept in the Secret Archives, the famous collection of Vatican gold seals is among the most important in the world. Kings, Princes and Emperors have sent their messages to the Popes over the centuries, corroborating the documents with their seal in a sign of devotion, which was made of gold on special occasions.

This exclusive, unique edition will guide its lucky owners on a journey back in time, to the Venice of the Doges.

The finely illuminated document has been chosen for its exceptional artistic work, and is corroborated by the splendid gold seal of Doge Pasquale Cicogna; the precious critical edition will give the fortunate owner of the “Exemplar” a chance to see the historic-political history of the Serenissima Republic and the richness of the Doges correspondence and the extensive value and preciousness of its contents.


Numbered exemplars, certified by the Vatican Secret Archives
Availability: available item | Current quotation: confidential negotiation

The Seal of Doge Pasquale Cicogna

Doge Pasquale Cicogna’s seal was reproduced entirely by hand, using the original technique. It is made of thin sheets of pure gold. The repoussé images and lettering on the obverse and reverse were obtained by pressing the gold sheets onto a matrix, and the thin strip that holds the two faces together was soldered and hammered by hand.

The seal is attached to the document by a dark-red-purple silk cord braided with gold threads that runs through two holes in the seal and ends in two elaborate tassels. The particular gold-working techniques are part of the knowhow belonging to the masters and craftsmen of the conservation workshops of the Secret Vatican Archives, which preserve the world’s most prestigious collection of seals.

These replicas of the cord and tassels were made by means what is now a nearly-forgotten craft. After the silk threads have been dyed they are cut, braided and tied by hand to form the tassels.

The replica of the doge’s document is accompanied by the critical edition of the text, together with historical notes and biographies of the persons concerned.

A series of multicolor prints highlight the most significant details of the document’s illuminated border. This splendid decoration was probably made as a tribute to the pope in acknowledgement of his greatness and power. One is struck by the beautiful faces of the women portrayed in the medallions as personifications of the theological virtues, and charmed by the many allegorical figures that enhance this ornate border.

The volume, elegantly bound in parchment with gold lettering on the front and the spine, can certainly be counted as an especially fine art book. The materials used for this publication – parchment and cotton paper – make it possible to guarantee each copy for life.

Technical characteristics

The document’s ornate border contains the heraldic devices of the Doge and the pope. The four medallions in the upper margin depict personifications of the three theological virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity), and the cardinal virtue of Justice. The two medallions in the left margin show the ancient obelisk that the pope had had installed in front of St. Peter’s, and David’s victory over the Goliath.

The text and the elegant multicolor half-border were perfectly replicated on special parchment-like paper made specifically for this purpose.

To obtain a perfect match between the replica and the original document, gold leaf with varying degrees of luminosity was applied by hand to the decoration.

Dimensions of the document:

Height 482-486 mm, width 688-690 mm, plica 32-37 mm

Dimensions and weight of the seal:

Diameter 33 mm, thickness 6 mm, weight 24.3 grams (± 5-10%), pure gold 999.9

The document’s display case was made entirely by hand. Even the slightest details were reproduced with the same elegance that characterized the originals.

The case consists of two wooden boards lined with a single piece of goatskin parchment made using ancient techniques, and is identical to the ones used very often to hold the documents kept in the Vatican Secret Archives.

The external case, which contains both the document and the critical edition, is fashioned from a single piece of natural Tuscan full-grain leather using ancient techniques; the leather is vegetable-tanned and hand-dabbed.

Dimensions of the leather case: 47 x 32 x 11 cm
Dimensions of the parchment display case: 45 x 30 x 5 cm
Reference: A.A. Arm.I-XVIII, 1302

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