World’s first religious relics to be made into NFTs — unique digital assets

Jillian Godsil
5 min readNov 22, 2021
  • Artentik launches NFT marketplace for Portugal’s Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML)
  • St Francis of Xavier to be celebrated as a NFT on his feast day of December 3rd

Artentik, the digital marketplace for SCML, is dropping the world’s first religious relics in the form of Non-Fungible-Tokens (NFTs) for the 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.

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 first NFT drop will take place on December 1st and is drawn from SCML’s sacred art collection, one of the finest in the world.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

Message from the President of SCML

“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,” says Edmundo Martinho, President of SCML.

“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,” he added.

Tech layer

Artentik,, is built on Polygon Layer 2 Ethereum blockchain offering faster transaction speeds, Proof of Stake leading to minimum 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.

For more history on SCML — visit here


About SCML:

SCML is a not-for-profit organisation overseen by the Portuguese Minister in charge of Social Security. Since its founding in 1498, SCML has focused on social enterprise works, and since 1783 it has held the right to operate lotteries to fund health and social initiatives. These now include various national lotteries, the Euromillions lottery and online gaming. Revenues earned from this activity are put back into society through social enterprise programmes.

Since the start of the 21st century, SCML has focused on expanding its social enterprise work to a broader segment of the population. SCML operates hospitals, invests heavily into scientific and medical research in neuroscience, funds education and training programmes, aggregates social entrepreneurship activities, runs a free paediatric dentistry service, works with other bodies to focus on the care of the 65+ population, and during the COVID-19 pandemic helped the elderly in social isolation as well as setting up a free online psychological support platform.

Over the centuries SCML has accumulated a vast artistic and cultural collection, including the Museum and Church of São Roque.

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