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Religious relics to be turned into NFTs for first time ever



J-P Mauro - published on 11/28/21

The theme of the first drop will be St. Francis Xavier, whose relic will be digitized into a non-fungible token.

Portugal’s Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML), a 500-year-old charitable organization with a massive collection of Catholic art, will soon release some pieces as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. The first drop will occur on December 1, in which digital copies of four of their prized masterpieces will go up for sale, alongside digital replicas of a reliquary of St. Francis Xavier. 

An NFT is a digital asset that, as defined by, “represents real-world objects like art, music, in-game items and videos. They are bought and sold online, frequently with cryptocurrency, and they are generally encoded with the same underlying software as many cryptos.”

Medium reports that SCML has launched a digital marketplace for NFTs, called Artenik, which will focus primarily on SCML’s vast archive of sacred art and relics. This new enterprise will allow the organization to promote and monetize their cultural heritage, while subsequently funding their endeavors.Artenik explains on their website that they will also carry the artwork of living Portuguese artists, who can sell their own works as NFTs. 

Saint Francis Xavier was selected as the theme of their first NFT drop. The four paintings that will be made into NFTs are the first of a series of 20 paintings by 17th-century Portuguese artist André Reinoso. The series follows the life of St. Francis Xavier, and was initially painted as a way to popularize his works in order to advance his cause for sainthood.

The fifth NFT on the docket will be a reliquary of St. Francis Xavier. Reports do not indicate the classification of the relic, but they cite it as a statue measuring 114 x 40 cm. This relic will be minted into one million NFTs, with the first 10,000 going up for purchase at a price of €100 each, on December 1. The NFTs of the paintings will be much more limited, with only 20 copies of each. 

SCML president, Edmundo Martinho, said in a statement: 

“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,”

Artenik’s first NFT drop will come on December 1 and will last until December 3, the feast day of St. Francis Xavier. Artinek has stated that they have other themed releases planned, including one on paintings depicting the life of Christ.Visit Artenik to learn how to participate in this NFT drop. 

Read more about Artenik’s unique collection of Catholic art at Medium.

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