During the medieval period, seals were widely used in trading to ensure the authenticity and security of a document or letter. Bronze seals were a possession of the wealthy, since they cost more to produce than lead seals, and had a longer life span on account of the metal’s hardness. The social status of the owner was reflected in the size of the seal, with the combination of motif and text providing further insight into the owner’s identity, such as their place in a family.
Saint Helena (circa 250 – 330 AD) was the first wife of Constantius Chlorus (Constantius I, emperor 305 – 306 AD) and the mother of Constantine the Great (Constantine I, the first Christian emperor, 307 – 337 AD). She became a Christian after the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, and was prominent in the building of several basilicas and many churches in the Holy Land. She is chiefly associated with the ‘discovery’ of the True Cross near Mount Calvary, and is usually depicted with imperial garb and a cross. Her sarcophagus remains to this day in the Vatican Museum, and her day of commemoration is 18th August.
To find out more about seals, please visit our relevant blog post: Seal Rings – Intaglios as Signature