Pope Francis I chooses ring designed by Italian artist and jeweller, Enrico Manfrini back in the 1960s

Enrico Manfrini, Madonna and Child, Foundation Cariplo

It is probably more the result of providence than any particular statement of aesthetic preference that has led Pope Francis to choose for the Papal ring a silver (rather than gold) one that had already been fashioned long ago from a simple design by the Italian artist and sculptor Enrico Manfrini, for Pope Paul VI. Nevertheless, it is heartening for the Pope to draw attention to the work of an artist who responded faithfully at the time to the expressed desire of the church at the Council (in the document on the liturgy) that ‘ the art of our own days…be also given free scope in the Church…(123)

Enrico Manfrini designed medals and other works of art for Pope Paul VI, including a ring for all the bishops who participated at the Second Vatican Council and a pectoral cross as a gift from Paul VI to all the bishops participating in the Synod at Bogota in 1968. He had already designed the Porta della Glorificazione di Maria for the Duomo of Siena in 1958, and went on to design doors elsewhere, including for St Paul outside the Walls, Rome and St Paul in Damascus, as well as many Stations of the Cross. His designs look back to the early Renaissance, in particular the work of Donatello. He also made bronzes of Bld John XXIII and John Paul II, who admired his work, as did the philosopher Jean Guitton. He is represented in all the major collections of modern Sacred Art in Italy, including the Vatican collection initiated by Paul VI in 1973, and the collection at Villa Clerici, Milan


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