Collection of sacral art
The Vodnjan collection of sacral art is second to none in Istria. It represents a summary of artistic genius in this region, fondness for aesthetic values and the piousness of its people, but also an insight into the life and history in the past few centuries.
The collection has 730 objects from the 5th – 19th centuries. The first room houses objects from Early Christian basilicas. The next room holds an extremely valuable collection of reliquaries made of Murano glass, precious metals and wood (13th – 18th centuries) of which particularly notable is the one holding a thorn from Christ's crown, with fine miniatures of apostles (13th – 14th centuries) and the reliquary of St. Simeon the Prophet with a piece of cloth in which he held the Child Jesus.
The masterpiece of 14th century painting, a triptych by Paolo Veneziano depicting on the lid of the sarcophagus holding the saint's body, a figure and scenes from the life of St. Leon Bembo whose body has remained entirely preserved even after one hundred years. In the third and fourth room are reliquaries, wooden statues, a guilt retable from the 17th century and fine embroidery on precious fabric of liturgical vestments.
On the floor, where painter Gaetano Gresler lived and worked (he came to Vodnjan in 1818), glass cabinets keep many interesting and nice artifacts: lace, jewelry, drawings of old Vodnjan coats of arms, paintings and flagpoles, rare and old books among which is the “Summa theologiae” by Thomas Aquinas (1586) and “Summa S. Antonini” (1571), as well as the oldest preserved book published in Nürnberg in 1509. Particularly interesting are registers of birth, death and marriage, kept in Vodnjan from 1559.