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SS Republic Religious Finds

After the U.S. Civil War, the South worked to rebuild its war-torn communities and spirituality was important in many homes. In fact, small religious objects were often given as prizes to Catholic students that learned their lessons.

Alongside the enormous quantity of utilitarian cargo recovered from the wreck  was an especially unique consignment of 96 religious objects shipped in a single wooden crate, still partly preserved on the seabed.

Inside the crate 34 pressed glass candlestick holders in the form of the crucified Christ made by the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company were found.  Holy water fonts and figurines, including 17 small angel figurines, were also recovered.  Other figurines were decorated with New Testament motifs of the crucified Jesus, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. The majority of the religious artifacts aboard the Republic are Continental hard paste porcelains, most of which are glazed. All the porcelains are very likely of French manufacture, possibly the product of one of many Limoges or Vierzon porcelain factories mass-producing such wares for the American market.

The context presented a cluster of Christian-themed glass and porcelain artifacts completely exposed (except for a light coating of sediment) on the upper surface of the wreckage forward of the starboard paddle wheel. From its position within the wreck, it appears that the crate must originally have been stowed not far below deck against the starboard side of the hull near the forward end of the engine room. 

Religious items from the Republic remain in a permanent collection and are featured in the Virtual Museum. Many are on display in exhibitions around the world. 

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