Medals relating to Baltimore

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James Cardinal Gibbons Jubilee Medal1911
by Michael Jenkins (des.) & J. Maxwell Miller (mod.)

This medal's obverse bears bust of Gibbons facing right. Around, JAMES CARDINAL GIBBONS

The reverse bears a view of Baltimore Basilica above coat of arms. Around, SACERDOS · 30 · JUN · 1861 ✝ EPISCOPUS · 16 · AUG 1868 (crozier) ARCHIEPISCOPUS · 3 · OCT · 1877 ☨ CARDINALIS · 30 · JUN · 1886; to left and right of coat of arms, 1861 - 1911

James Cardinal Gibbons was only the second American to attain the rank of Cardinal in the Catholic Church. Born to Irish immigrants, he became a priest in 1861 after recovering from severe Malaria that had left him too weak to be ordained four years earlier. Gibbons was controversial on several issues. He was a strong supporter of workers' causes and was instrumental in securing papal permission for Catholics to organize in labor unions. He also took a position in support of the King of Belgium and against clergy who were complaining against exploitative colonial practices.

Mencken, often a harsh critic of Christian ministers, wrote in 1921 after the Gibbons' death:

"More presidents than one sought the counsel of Cardinal Gibbons: he was a man of the highest sagacity, a politician in the best sense, and there is no record that he ever led the Church into a bog or up a blind alley. He had Rome against him often, but he always won in the end, for he was always right."

This medal was issued as part of Gibbons' golden jubilee celebration where President Taft honored him for his contributions.

The circular medal measures 70mm in diameter and was struck in bronze by the Medallic Art Company of New York.

References: MACo 1911-001