As far as designing medals is concerned, there is an enormous freedom regarding form, material and expressed content, since there are no legal restrictions which would regulate these features. The range of materials used for medal production, apart from the classic ones such as gold, silver or brass can also include more uncommon ones, for instance: baked clay, china, crystal, gold-plated or silver-plated plastic, as well as coal.

Papal medals commemorating pilgrimages

Among medals found in our collection the papal medals are those which will certainly draw special attention of every visitor. They were minted in order to commemorate the pilgrimages of the Pope and given by him to dignitaries, country leaders, representatives of the diplomatic corps and distinguished persons. We have 49 such medals in our collection and they constitute authentic relics, since they were given to various people personally by John Paul II.

Among the designers of medals, i.e. the so-called medallists, there are professors of fine art, artists, professional manufacturers, as well as amateurs. In the case of some of the medals in our collection, just two copies have been minted. One was usually given to the Holy Father, and the other retained by the medallist. Such rare medals, of which just two or three specimens have been minted, can also be found in our Museum

Annual medals

One of the many curiosities found in our Museum is the almost complete collection of annual medals. Annual medals are issued at regular intervals in order to commemorate every year of the current pope’s pontificate. During the pontificate of John Paul II there were issued 26 annual medals, minted in three versions from three various metals.

John Paul II did not live to see the last, 27th issue of the annual medal. According to the custom, twenty-six annual medals (one per each year of the pontificate) were placed in the Pope’s coffin just before it was sealed.

Every year a different author is asked to design the annual medal. Among the authors there was a Pole, a Japanese, and many Italians. Each medal is closely connected with the year which it is supposed to commemorate. For instance, after the attempted assassination of John Paul II there was designed the medal which had an irregular shape bringing to mind the bullet intended for the Pope, which ricocheted from the ground (the real disfigured bullet became an inspiration of the designer).

The images of annual medals could be admired on flags hanging around St. Peter’s Square in Vatican during the television broadcast of John Paul II’s beatification. Both their obverses and reverses were depicted.


John Paul II saint from


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Access by public transport
Access from Jasna Góra: bus line no. 19 from Komenda Miejska Policji, direction Kucelin Szpital or Walcownia, to Makro bus stop.

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