It’s hard to imagine that coins depicting Jesus Christ struck hundreds of years ago could survive to the modern day. But coins were often buried by their owners to safeguard them, and in the cases where they were not reclaimed, the coins sometimes survived to modern times to be unearthed by a lucky finder.
Most art of the Byzantine Empire was devoted to the Christian faith, and this coin is an ideal reflection of Christendom, which flourished in the middle-ages under the protection of the Byzantine Empire. The front depicts a figure of Jesus Christ enthroned. The back shows the Archangel Michael anointing Emperor Michael V.
This coin was struck centuries after Constantine I “The Great” began to transform the Roman Empire from a pagan nation to one which owed allegiance to the Christian church. As such it is a lasting testimony to the strength of the Christianity in preserving many aspects of western culture from the influences and advances of the east.
The silver coin was struck in Venice, one of the leading city-states in Italy from 13th Century AD until the mid 15th Century. The Patron Saint of Venice, St. Mark, is shown on the back of the coin standing side-by-side with Doge, the top official in Venice. Because of their wealth, the Venetians were instrumental in financing the Crusades in the east, and were efficient enough in war and commerce to breach the walls of Constantinople early in the 13th Century and temporarily force the Byzantine Government into exile. In one fail swoop they eliminated their chief political and commercial rival in the Mediterranean, and even though Byzantium soon recovered, were the uncontested masters of commerce at sea.