Pope Alexander VII

Death Departing

Silver, 35 mm Ø, 19.7 g
By Gaspare Morone, Regnal Year 3 (1657).
Obverse:  Bust of Alexander VII facing right, wearing a decorative cope. Around, ALEXAN · VII · PONT · MAX · A · III . Below, the artist, · G M · .
Reverse:  Saint Peter descends from heaven, holding a key, towards victims of the plague. At the right is the angel of death, holding a skull and sword. St. Peter's Basilica can be seen in the left background. Below, VT VMBRA ILLIVS LIBERARENTVR · .

Annual medal for Year III (1657) of Alexander VII's reign. The dreaded plague appeared in Rome in May of 1656. Pope Alexander VII took charge of the situation and instituted measures to try and control the outbreak. He would also make frequent public appearances to calm the people. By June of 1657, the plague in Rome was coming to an end, though Rome lost about one-eighth its population (15,000 people) in that time.

This medal was the first of several medals (and a coin) to be designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini during the reign of Alexander VII.


Whitman and Varriano 1983, no. 78

Miselli 2003, no. 545

Modesti 2007, no. 127