Where can you find an artifact that belonged to Mary Queen of Scots, a bible published by a woman in 16th century Paris, coins such as the widow’s mite, or a document signed by President Thomas Jefferson and his Secretary of State James Madison? You may be surprised to learn that you don’t have to travel to Washington, D.C. but rather trek just two hours north to our capital city to find these historic items and many more treasures. These priceless pieces are on exhibit in a museum fittingly located in the oldest area of Columbus, specifically, Franklinton. The Jubilee Museum is housed in the Holy Family school building that is over a century old. The building is the second most fireproof building in the capital city and was completed in 1912. It is a respository of Catholic art and artifacts as well as artifacts from several other religions that have been gifted to the museum over the years.
Rev. Kevin Lutz, currently pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church in German Village, founded the museum in 1998 when he was pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church. After accumulating a number of sacred objects from Catholic churches and schools in Ohio that were closing, Lutz decided to open a museum to share the artifacts. He chose to call it the Jubilee Museum in anticipation of Pope John Paul II’s proclaimation of the year 2000 as the Jubilee Year. Lutz serves on the museum’s board and continues his involvement on a hands on basis as time permits.
Shawn Kenney, executive director of the Jubilee Museum, captivated AAUW/Portsmouth members with a silver chalice embedded with jewels belonging to a 16th century monarch, a fragile leather bound altar missal dating back to 1501, and an exquisite pocket sized painting from the Renaissance.
Kenney explained that the chalice with a heart shaped amethyst (which by the way, is the size of the Hope diamond) and surrounded by mother of pearl beads, were gems that once belonged to Mary Queen of Scots who lived from1542 until l587 when her English cousin, Queen Elizabeth I had her beheaded. The silver chalice associated with Queen Mary, including much of the Byzantine art found in the museum, were all donated to the Jubilee Museum by the Holy Land Franciscans in 2006.
Kenney continued his historical perspective by recounting that Queen Mary’s son, James, became King James I of England for whom the King James Bible is named. A 1611 King James edition of the Bible is in the museum’s historic books collection. The museum also has a Torah scroll on display, as well as, the first Bible published by a woman in 1558 Paris. A copy of the Gutenberg Bible published in 1455 and other books of note are on display at the museum, as well. A noteworthy book is a 1501 altar missal written in Latin, complete with leather binding, which was used during the time when Christopher Columbus was completing his fourth voyage to the New World and Michaelangelo was just beginning to work on his masterpiece David. A Douay Rheims Bible written in Middle English and published in three volumes over a period of three years, can also be found in the museum’s archives.
The final piece that Kenney shared with the group was a small piece of Renaissance art. An exquisite painting of the Holy Family painted on a sheet of copper is probably the work of a student under a master painter’s guidance since the work is unsigned. It was customary during that period in art history that an apprentice never signed his work.
The Jubilee Museum’s current changing exhibit has a display of around 250 Nativity scenes from around the world, including Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mexico, Honduras, Sweden as well as several other countries. Its collection is like no other. The museum has the largest Fontanini Nativity figures from Italy. Some figures are nearly life size, standing four feet tall. Other interesting Nativity scenes include a Currier and Ives set which graced the lawn of St. Joseph Cathedral in Columbus in the 1940’s.
The media used by artists range from paint on plaster to wood, and even cardboard. But don’t be decieved by this humble medium because the artist has created each cardboard piece into a noble three dimensional figure.
The Nativity scenes and decorated Christmas trees can be viewed at the Jubilee Museum from now until January 14, 2018. The museum is located at 57 South Grubb Street in Columbus.