Wednesday, May 29, 2013


 Medal collectors abound in the Philippines, judging from the number of medals and medallions offered at the regular Bayanihan Collector auctions in Manila. Few, however, collect religious medals, as they are not exactly on top of the list of medal collectibles--military medals, historical medals and commemorative medals are way up there. Now that's good news for religious medal collectors! Not only are prices stable and affordable, vintage medals of the sacred kind are also plentiful. They come in all sorts--made of cheap plastic, aluminum, brass, silver, and even gold.

Most common religious medals are those that mark feast days and anniversaries of saints (Virgen de La Naval, 400 years of Sto. Nino of Cebu), important religious events (e.g. National Eucharistic Congress). There are also souvenir medals from pilgrim sites (Shrine of our Lady of Lourdes, Fatima) and also celebrate the sacraments (Communion medals). Perhaps, the most well-known medal in the Philippines is Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, the design of which was based on a vision by the French saint, Catherine Laboure.

Considered as sacramentals, religious medals are staples of Manila thrift shops and are regular offerings at the Greenhills Antique and Collectible shows. For the lazy shopper, there are local dealers on ebay Philippines that sell such medals too. The most sought after are the old medals showing the likenesses of Virgen de La Naval, or Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, patroness of the Philippines. Medals of the Nazareno and the Virgen de Antipolo are also prized. Medals, which contain relics, command higher prizes, as well as medals of gold and silver, as in the silver medals struck for the 1937 International Eucharistic Congress held in the Philippines.

Medals are best displayed in shadow boxes, or kept in plastic cases. I chose to show off mine in a tin glass-panelled urna inspired by those antique Mexican retablo cases. I hope I get a medal for creativity!


  1. Is this your collection? Do you sell some of it? I'm quite interested.
    Ed of

  2. Nice collection and urna! Where did you get it? I'd also like to display some of my medals this way. :)

  3. I had the small tin urna done by a local metalsmith, using pukpokmethod. It's patterned after the old Mexican tin urnas. Fairly easy to do if you can find a metalsmith--as I used ordinary tin from a hardware shop. The reverse painting on glass, I did myself, using acrylic. The medals are pinned on a foamboard wrapped in red velvet over thin foam.

  4. What a great collection. And it seems well taken cared off because it was put in a frame. That would surely preserve those medals.