Object ID
Object Name
Medal, Political
Date Created
circa 1900
Metal; Silk
Object Description
Round gold medal attached to a short wine colored ribbon with a pin (which is attached to disintegrating foam). The front side of the medal has text around the circumference of the medal that reads "Saint Romanos The Melodian. The Patron Saint Of Greek Orthodox Curch Musicians" in all caps and all of teh same size. The text frames a raised engraving of Saint Romanos holding his famous scroll ("kontakion"). The other side of the medal reads, "25 Years of Service For Outstanding Musical And Spiritual Contribution" in all caps and with the "25" enlarged to take up about a quarter of the medal's space. The text on both sides of the medal is raised.
This medal was given to its recipient in honor of the individual's participation in the musical aspects of his or her church (which is not indicated on the medal itself). It is possible that the medal was never worn by its recipient as it is still attached to its foam holding. According to legend, Romanus was not at first considered to be either a talented reader or singer. He was, however, loved by the Patriarch of Constantinople because of his great humility. Once, around the year 518, while serving in the Church of the Panagia at Blachernae, during the All-Night Vigil for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, he was assigned to read the kathisma verses from the Psalter. He read so poorly that another reader had to take his place. Some of the lesser clergy ridiculed Romanus for this, and being humiliated he sat down in one of the choir stalls. Overcome by weariness and sorrow, he soon fell asleep. As he slept, the Theotokos (Mother of God) appeared to him with a scroll in her hand. She commanded him to eat the scroll, and as soon as he did so, he awoke. He immediately received a blessing from the Patriarch, mounted the ambo (pulpit), and chanted extemporaneously his famous Kontakion of the Nativity, "Today the Virgin gives birth to Him Who is above all being…." The emperor, the patriarch, the clergy, and the entire congregation were amazed at both the profound theology of the hymn and Romanos' clear, sonorous voice as he sang. According to tradition, this was the very first kontakion ever sung. The Greek word "kontakion" refers to the shaft on which a scroll is wound, hence the significance of the Theotokos' command for him to swallow a scroll, indicating that his compositions were by divine inspiration.
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Medal, Political, circa 1900, National Hellenic Museum, https://collections.nationalhellenicmuseum.org/Detail/objects/10443. Accessed 01/27/22.