A charitable group is aiming for a “cultural democratisation of museums” through NFTs


Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML) is the largest charitable organisation in Portugal. It is a 500-year-old social enterprise organisation and keeper of the Museum and Church of São Roque in Lisbon, which houses one of the most important religious collections in Catholic Europe.

With the help of NFT marketplace Artentik, SCML is planning to auction religious NFTs in which the funds will be used to support the social good works conducted by the SCML.

Artentik will be SCML’s curated platform to share digital twins of its treasures and encourage living artists to also sell their works as NFTs. This will enable SCML to monetize and promote its unique cultural heritage to the world while continuing its extensive 500-year support to social causes.

The theme of the NFTs is St Francis Xavier

The theme of the first drop celebrates St Francis Xavier, (7 April 1506 – 3 December 1552), who was a Navarrese Catholic missionary and co-founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). He was a companion of Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits who took vows of poverty and chastity at Montmartre, Paris in 1534. He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time and was influential in evangelization work, most notably in India.

Pope Paul III receives St Francis Xavier
Pope Paul III receives St Francis Xavier

He was beatified by Pope Paul V on 25 October 1619 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV on 12 March 1622. In 1624, he was made co-patron of Navarre. Known as the “Apostle of the Indies” and “Apostle of Japan”, he is considered to be one of the greatest missionaries since Paul the Apostle.

After his death in 1552, he was buried on an island off the coast of China and again in Malaysia, for a total period of almost two years, before being transferred to the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, India — one of his key missionary sites. Each time the body was exhumed, no natural decomposition had taken place, making Francis Xavier what is called an incorrupt saint.

(St Francis Xavier cures a sick man in Goa)
(St Francis Xavier cures a sick man in Goa)

While St Francis Xavier was lying in state in 1554 in Goa a local Portuguese woman decided she wanted a piece for her private collection; she bit off the little toe of his right foot. The bone from this bite is now preserved in a reliquary in the SCML.

The SCML NFT Drops

There will be five distinct items in the first drop. The first four NFTs are part of a 20-strong collection of paintings by Portuguese proto-baroque painter André Reinoso (c.1590-1641) and his collaborators. This collection of 20 paintings features the blessing of the Pope and the submission of St Francis Xavier to the Church of Rome.

These paintings were placed on the Sacristy of the Church of St. Roch in 1619, three years before the official canonization of St. Francis Xavier on the 12th of March 1622 and were part of immense religious ‘propaganda’ about the life and the work of the great Jesuit missionary, and in order to speed up the process of canonization by the Catholic Church.

The first four paintings of the collection have been converted into NFTs. Each painting in the collection will be restricted to 20 mints in total. The four first mints will be sold via auction.

(St Francis Xavier meets King John III before his departure as a missionary to India)
(St Francis Xavier meets King John III before his departure as a missionary to India)

The fifth item in the first drop is a reliquary of St Francis Xavier. This tiny statue dates back to the 17th century and measures 114 x 40 cm in size. In total, 1 million NFTs will be minted of this statue, but only 10,000 released in the first drop. This is a fixed price NFT at €100 each.

When and where

The auction and sale open at Artentik.com on December 1st, Independence Restoration Day in Portugal, and will run until December 3rd, the feast day of St Francis Xavier. To receive updates, visit the site and provide an email address.

The President of SCML Edmundo Martinho told CryptoSlate:

“In Lisbon, SCML enjoys a warm relationship with residents and visitors to the museum and church and we see a way of extending that relationship globally, and to new generations, through NFTs.”

He added:

“We have 500 years’ worth of priceless treasures from baroque art to graffiti art that we are keen to share with lovers of art, antiquities and religious history. By creating our own digital window, Artentik, people can view our unique cultural assets, own a digital replica of them through NFTs, and know that the proceeds will be used for social enterprise activities. This is a cultural democratisation of museums, and we are delighted to embrace it.”

NFT marketplace Artentik is built on Polygon layer-2 Ethereum blockchain offering faster transaction speeds, proof of stake leading to minimize environmental impact, and reliability. Payment for NFTs will only be accepted in cryptocurrency. Artentik is a joint venture with Boloro Global Limited, a New York City-based technology company.

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