The palace of the Archbishop of Modena-Nonantola is located at Corso Duomo, 34, immediately across from the front entrance of the cathedral.
In the entrance corridor of the first floor is a painting recording the visit of Pope Pius VII to Modena in 1815. 1 The painting shows Pius VII extending his hand to a kneeling Queen Mary III and II. Behind Mary stands her husband Duke Francis IV of Modena.
Pius VII arrived in Modena on May 24, 1815. The following day he celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi in the town together with Queen Mary, her husband, and the entire court. He spent at least one night as a guest in the Palazzo Ducale. 2
The painting is a 1901 copy by S. Grandi of an 1857 original by Geminiano Mundici. The original was probably prepared as part of a cycle of paintings on the glories of the House of Este which King Francis I ordered to decorate some rooms in the Palazzo Ducale. In the Palazzo Ducale there is a large detail of the central portion of the painting, showing just the pope, Mary, and Francis. 3
The Visit of Pius VII
Among the items owned by the Archbishop of Modena is a ring given to Monsignor Luigi Ferrari by King Francis I on the occasion of the baptism of his daughter Princess Anna Beatrice in 1848. 4 The ring is set with a hyacinth surrounded by twelve brilliants.
There are also two ecclesiastical vestments which were given by Princess Maria Teresa, countess of Chambord, sister of King Francis: a purple velvet chasuble and a purple velvet cope. 5 It is possible that these are among the vestments now on display in the Museo del Duomo.
1 The painting is a 1901 copy by S. Grandi of an 1857 original by Geminiano Mundici.
2 Bartolomeo Pacca, Relazione del viaggio di Pio Papa VII a Genoa nella primavera dell'anno 1815 e del suo ritorno in Roma (Orvieto: Sperandio Pompei, 1833), 120-121.
3 Cf. a photograph in Albano Biondi, Il Palazzo Ducale di Modena: sette secoli di uno spazio cittadino (Modena: Panini, 1987), 263. The photograph was taken circa 1930. The painting was then located in the same room as Adeodata Malatesta's "Alfonso III d'Este taking the Franciscan habit".
4 Giuseppe Pistoni, Il Palazzo Arcivescovile di Modena (Modena: Aedes Muratoriana, 1976), 72.
5 Pistoni, 72.
Image 1 (The Visit of Pius VII): © Noel S. McFerran 2007.