JEWISH-AMERICAN HALL OF FAME • JEWISH MUSEUM IN CYBERSPACE
ANTI-SEMITIC BIGOTRY AS CHRONICLED BY HISTORICAL MEDALS


 
host medal  desecration of host medal
Figure 20. 450th Anniversary of the Desecration of the Host Medal

Unknown artist, Belgium, 1820, Brass struck medal, 32 mm. Ref: Kirschner, p.31 (variant); Friedenberg p.20 (Image courtesy of Alex Ben-Arieh)

The medal shown above is a variant of one published by Kirschner where the medal’s reverse more explicitly states in the legend (translated from the French), “Jubilee 1820 in Reparation for the Outrages of the Holy Hosts in the Year 1370".

It is of interest that in 1870, while preparing for the next festival, a series of publications exposed inaccuracies and falsifications in the sources upon which the blood libel took place, causing Pope Pius IX to stop the commemoration of these festivals (Ben-Arieh). Concurrent with this, a different type of medal was issued, one that may be viewed as philo-Semitic. This medal was also made in Belgium, which at that time had become more tolerant toward Jews (the mayor of Brussels was Jewish). It showed on the obverse two Jews being burned, one of whom had the features and stance of Jesus on the Cross. The medal’s reverse was inscribed: “In 1370 Jews were taken and burned live at Brussels under the pretext of having profaned the Host; their property was confiscated and all their co-religionists proscribed. It is the 500th year of a cruel act of spoliation and intolerance that the priests wished to celebrate in great pomp this year. Popular sentiment has repulsed it with energetic indignation.” (Friedenberg, p. 22)

2 1 3 3

© 2000-2011 Jewish-American Hall of Fame © 2012-2015 American Numismatic Society All Rights Reserved by Benjamin Weiss