Fátima and Casa Leitão
In 1941, a group of Portuguese started a movement that culminated in a national fundraising campaign for the manufacture of a queen’s crown for Our Lady of Fátima. They asked for jewellery, not money, so as to make the crown directly using the gifts of each.
Casa Leitão received thousands of pieces offered by the Portuguese and, at no cost, with that gold and silver and the precious stones, made the crown of Our Lady in 1942, which is the most remarkable work of Portuguese jewellery of the twentieth century and, at the same time, the best known in the world.
Twelve jewellers/ goldsmiths worked on the crown during three months. The crown was studded with 2,992 precious stones, in keeping with a design created by Casa Leitão, with emphasis on the eight gold half-arches, which heraldically correspond to a queen’s crown.
The coronation took place officially on May 13, 1946, at Fátima, officiated by the Papal Legate.
On May 13, 1981, John Paul II suffered an attack in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, attributing to Our Lady of Fátima the cause of his salvation. In 1984, in Rome, in recognition of this, the Pope offered the bullet that had hit him to the Bishop of Leiria. Interestingly, in the original manufacture of the crown, in 1942, where the eight queen half-arches come together, there was an empty space, appropriate to the calibre of the bullet, in which it was placed in 1989.
The History of Casa Leitão
Its origins in the city of Porto in the late eighteenth century, Casa Leitão became the epitome of Jewellery on being appointed Goldsmith of the Imperial House of Brazil by Pedro II, emperor of Brazil and, in 1877, Jewellers of the Portuguese Crown by Luís I, king of Portugal. The title of Jewellers of the Crown led Casa Leitão to move from Porto to Lisbon to be near the Court, where it set up a “modern” goldsmithery, which has been in operation to this day.
With shops in Lisbon and Estoril – Cascais, Casa Leitão represents modernity, character and quality in Jewellery, incorporating into traditional production processes the most up-to-date design and manufacturing techniques.
Casa Leitão is also noted for the manufacture of tailor-made, personalised pieces, including engagement rings, jewellery, cutlery, tableware and other articles, as well as their maintenance and restoration. These services, carried out by the workshop’s team of professionals whose knowledge is handed down from generation to generation, each with their own character, are the distinguishing factor of Casa Leitão.
1786 – José Teixeira da Trindade
José Teixeira da Trindade is born in the city of Porto. He became a prominent citizen linked to trade with Brazil and gold business. He maintained close links with the goldsmithery industry. Maria Delfina, his only daughter, married José Pinto Leitão.
1822 – Vernacular Jewellery
José Pinto Leitão registered the hallmark “JPL” and opened his business at Rua das Flores, the classic street of the goldsmiths in Porto. “… The type of establishment at the time was a store-workshop, where the craftsman worked where he could be seen by the customers, next to the sales counter. The typical article produced was the ‘heart’, the earring, the cordon, items that in the north of Portugal were worn on festive days, at sung mass, at popular festivals…”
1837 – Marriage
Marriage of José Pinto Leitão to Maria Delfina, daughter of José Teixeira da Trindade. This marriage played a fundamental role in the development of Casa Leitão.
1866 – Europe
The house makes its mark in the country. Narciso and Olindo, sons of the founder, lend continuity to the family business and take the name Leitão & Irmão. They modernise production, bringing in new materials, and investing in machinery. They extend the business abroad, setting up branches in Paris and London, and building up an important network of contacts.
1872 – Brazil
Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil, grants Leitão & Irmão the title of “Goldsmiths of the Imperial House of Brazil”. The link between the Crown and Casa Leitão dates back to siege of Porto (1832/1833), where José Teixeira da Trindade establishes special relations with king Pedro IV of Portugal, who was also Pedro I of Brazil.
1887 – Crown Jewellers
On December 1st, king Luís of Portugal grants Leitão & Irmão the title of “Crown Jewellers”. Leitão & Irmão continued to be chosen by the Royal Household to create gifts for family, friends and personalities. Queen Maria Pia was also an enthusiastic and loyal customer. She played a decisive role in the acquisition of numerous useful and decorative silver and gold objects, mostly of great refinement and sobriety, revealing a preference for the neo-rocaille taste.
1888 – The Vatican
Chalice offered by king Luís to Pope Leo XIII, to commemorate His Jubilee in 1888. As a particular sign of pleasure, Pope Leo XIII celebrated the Jubilee mass with the chalice offered by the king of Portugal.
1942 – Crown of gold and precious stones
Crown of Our Lady of Fátima, one of the most noteworthy Portuguese jewels. Gift of the Portuguese in gratitude for their sons having been spared the drama of World War II. The Crown, of gold and precious stones, the result of a national campaign of gifts entrusted to Casa Leitão, was crafted during three months by twelve craftsmen and has 313 pearls and 2,679 precious stones set in gold. Almost half a century later, in 1984, this work gained greater relevance when Pope John Paul II offered Our Lady of Fátima the bullet that struck him during the attempt on his life on May 13, 1981, at the Vatican. The bullet fit perfectly in the empty space left in 1942 at the junction of the eight half-arches that form the queen’s crown.
1946 – Crown of Roses
Crown of Our Lady of Fátima of chased gilded silver. In addition to the Precious Crown, another Crown was made of silver gilt, for day-to-day use. The Precious Crown is used on the anniversaries of the apparitions and other special events.
1958 – Christ the King
Gold liturgical furnishings Inauguration of the Christ the King monument at Almada (Lisbon, Portugal).
1992 – Crown of the Servites of Fátima Chapel
Of gold and precious stones, the Crown of Our Lady of Fátima of the Chapel of the Servites was made for the occasion of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Fátima apparitions.
2000 – Jubilee
The nativity scene, by sculptor Graça Costa Cabral. Comprising 15 silver figures on a base consisting of five slate plaques, the piece was delivered to Pope John Paul II, in Fátima, on the occasion of the Jubilee Year 2000, finalising the work begun in 1981.
2003 – Rosary of the Light
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Pontificate of HH Pope John Paul II and on the close of Year of the Rosary, Casa Leitão was invited to create a rosary inspired by the Luminous Mysteries, a unique piece that marks the new mysteries, delivered to His Holiness in evocation of His connection with Portugal.
2005 – Monstrance of the Living Christ
Piece designed by Casa Leitão and Francisco Noronha Andrade for the Patriarchate of Lisbon. Work in silver, gold, enamel and marble for the 2005 commemorations. The monstrance was inaugurated at the São Domingos church in Lisbon.
2007 – Altar of the Holy Trinity Basilica at Fátima
Support in silver and light for the foundation stone for the Altar of the Holy Trinity Basilica. The small cube of stone was cut from the tomb of St. Peter in the Vatican and offered by John Paul II as a founding stone of the new Fátima Basilica.
2011 – Crown of Fátima Chapel of the Shrine of Rio de Janeiro
In 2002/2003 the replica of the Chapel of the Apparitions of Fátima (Portugal) was inaugurated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 2011 the statue of Our Lady of Fátima of this Shrine this was crowned with a replica of the Crown of Roses, made of gold and diamonds at the Casa Leitão workshops.
2014 – Rosary of the New Millennium
Created on the occasion of 100th anniversary of Fátima and of the canonization of Pope John Paul II, the Rosary of the New Millennium, of gold and rock crystal, represents of itself the four sets of Mysteries that invoke the new composition of the rosary.
2017 – Crown of the New Millennium
Coronation of Our Lady of Fátima. Westminster, United Kingdom.
The Crown is an interpretation of the original Crown created by Leitão & Irmão in 1942 and redesigned at the beginning of twenty-fist century for the statue of Our Lady of Fátima crowned at Westminster Cathedral in the United Kingdom in 2017, the centenary of the apparitions.
2017 – Crown of the New Millennium
Coronation of Our Lady of Fátima at the Lisbon Cathedral The “Crown of the New Millennium” also crowned the statue of Our Lady of Fátima at Lisbon Cathedral, inaugurated on December 8, 2017, by His Eminence the Cardinal-Patriarch.
2018 – Large Nativity Scene
Collection begun in 2018 with an edition of 25 figures, to which new figures are added regularly until its completion in 2023. In this way, the 800th anniversary is marked of the first popular representation of the Nativity Scene in the Greccio forest in Italy by St. Francis of Assisi.