Although a majority have been lost to history, some of the earliest relics of the Church still survive to this day. Those associated with the Holy Family have been the most studied and fascinating of them all.
Some of these include the Holy Sponge, True Cross, Holy Robe, Holy Lance, and Holy Prepuce, and the Virgin’s Girdle. While many are familiar with these relics, most are probably unfamiliar with the Santo Anello, the Holy Ring.
According to pious tradition, the Santo Anello was purchased by jeweler in Chiusi, Italy around the 11 century from a Jewish precious stones merchant. Originally, the merchant doubted the claims it was the wedding ring of the Holy Parents until he had a vision of his recently deceased son vouching for its authenticity.
After his miraculous vision the jeweler donated the ring to the local Church. In Chiusi it remained in the care of the sisters of a local convent for over three hundred years until it was stolen by a priest and taken to the city of Perugia.
Finding its home in the Perugia Cathedral, the Santo Anello was housed in an ornate reliquary reminiscent of monstrance and became a popular relic of veneration while celebrating the Feast of Saint Joseph in Perugia after it was added to the liturgical calendar in 1479.
Lending to its authenticity, in the 18th-century Marian mystic Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich had a vision of the Santo Anello housed there despite not knowing of its existence.
In the last few days I have seen much of the story of Mary’s wedding-ring, but as the result of disturbances and pain I can no longer give a connected account of it. Today I saw a festival in a church in Italy where the wedding-ring is to be found. It seemed to me to be hung up in a kind of monstrance which stood above the Tabernacle.
There was a large altar there, magnificently decorated, one saw deep into it through much silverwork. I saw many rings being held against the monstrance. During the festival I saw Mary and Joseph appearing in their wedding garments on each side of the ring, as if Joseph were placing the ring on the Blessed Virgin’s finger. At the same time I saw the ring shining and as if in movement.
To the right and left of this altar I saw two other altars, which were probably not in the same church, but were only shown to me in my vision as being together. In the altar to the right was an Ecce Homo picture of Our Lord, which a devout Roman senator, a friend of St. Peter’s, had received in a miraculous manner. In the altar to the left was one of the grave-clothes of Our Lord.
Author Miska Michele Tosti wrote in his book Il Santo Anello: Leggenda, Storia, Arte, Devozione that “an investigation carried out in 1949-50 . . . suggested that the relic is actually a man’s signet ring from the 1st century AD.”
Today, it is traditionally venerated by pilgrims en route to the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels in Assisi to celebrate the Festa di Perdono there on August 2nd, The Feast of Pardon of Assisi.