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Pope Leo XIII

Pope Leo XIII

“I had observed some newspaper comment at the time, but I was exceedingly preoccupied by that little affair of the Vatican cameos, and in my anxiety to oblige the Pope I lost touch with several interesting English cases.”

– The Hound of the Baskervilles (HOUN)


In The Hound of the Baskervilles, there is the tantalizing reference to the little affair of the Vatican cameos and that Sherlock Holmes had done work on behalf of the Pope. At the November 16, 2014 meeting of the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, the 25th Garrideb, John Baesch, offered this toast to His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII.

He was a noble bachelor; he was a most illustrious client.

Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci, who was to reign as Pope Leo XIII, was born in 1810, the sixth of seven sons born to Count Ludovico Pecci and his wife Anna. Vincenzo and his older brother Giuseppe  studied at the Jesuit College in Viterbo, and later at the Jesuit Collegium in Rome. Giuseppe became a Jesuit; Vincenzo pursued his priestly studies at the Vatican school for diplomats and administrators.

During his reign (1878-1903), Pope Leo XIII became the first Pope to make a sound recording; he was also the first Pope to be filmed with a motion picture camera, blessing the camera in the process.

On his election, he became the first Pope to have been born in the 19th century; he would be the first Pope to die in the 20th. He was Pope for most of Sherlock Holmes’ active career. He was also the first Pope to open the Secret Archives to scholars and researchers, a process that continues today.

Pope Leo XIII is credited with great efforts in the areas of scientific and historical analysis. As was Sherlock Holmes.

Leo XIII’s theology was influenced by the First Vatican Council (1870). During his reign, he issued nearly 50 encyclical letters and apostolic exhortations regarding the central themes of the First Vatican Council: marriage, family, the state, and society. He worked to encourage better understanding of the Church in modern times.

Every single Pope who has succeeded Leo XIII has turned his talents and insight to these same issues. For this reason, Pope Leo XIII is considered the first modern Pope.

To His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII.

His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII, was featured on quite a few medals. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Pope Leo XIII 1879 Medal

This 1879 medal, the second year of Leo XIII’s papacy is found in gold, silver and bronze. The legend on the reverse of the medal translates as “The nation and kingdom that will not serve me will perish.”

Leo - St. Peter Basilica

This undated 47mm bronze medal features St. Peter’s Basilica and the Egyptian Obelisk, and was engraved by Stefano Johnson.

Leo 1890 Medal

This silver 1890 medal was engraved by Francesco Bianchi and has a mintage believed to be less than 1,200 medals. The reverse features a chained St. Peter, illustrating the then status of the “Prisoner of the Vatican” that had existed since 1870 with the Italian unification process.

Leo 1900 Medal

Bianchi also designed this 1900 bronze medal to celebrate the the new century and the upcoming Jubilee.

Leo - Opening of Holy Door

This 25mm silvered bronze medal shows Pope Leo XIII shows him using a silver hammer to knock out the first brick in the ceremony to open the Holy Door as part of the 1900 Jubilee festivities.

Pope Leo XIII 1903 Medal

This 1903 gold medal is one of the last medals struck to honor His Holiness, celebrating his 26th year. Leo XIII would pass away later, on July 20th.

In addition to this toast being presented at the November 16, 2014 meeting of the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, it was reprinted in Volume 31, Number 1, the Winter 2014 issue of The Serpentine Muse.

John BaeschJohn F. Baesch, the 25th Garrideb aka Paddington, is a retired railroad executive. Investitured into the Baker Street Irregulars in 1998 as the State and Merton County Railroad. Baesch is investitured as Cardinal Tosca in ASH and was Gasogene XIV of Watson’s Tin Box. He also is a member of the Six Napoleons of Baltimore, the Speckled Band of Boston, the White Rose Irregulars, the Sons of the Copper Beeches of Philadelphia. He currently serves as the Commissionaire of the Diogenes Club of Washington, DC and resides in Baltimore with his wife Evelyn.

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