This monumental mosaic was specifically made for and displayed in the Vatican. It is almost certainly the only artwork of its kind to come on the market in the past generation. Created at the holy site's famed mosaic studio, this rare work took a team of seven skilled artisans over two and a half years to complete. Begun in 1893, it was completed and officially installed in St. Peter's Basilica in 1895. Masterpieces from the Vatican, especially those on the grand scale of this incredible mosaic, almost never leave the confines of this holy site.
This mosaic is based upon a 17th-century Baroque painting entitled The Martyrdom of Saint Valeria and Saint Martial which was commissioned for the "New" St. Peter's in 1627. The painting depicts a pivotal moment in the lives of two Catholic Saints, St. Valeria and her mentor, St. Martial. In it, St. Valeria, newly martyred for her faith, carries her head to St. Martial to be blessed. This painting hung above the altar of St. Martial in St. Peter's Basilica until it was removed in 1824. Cardinals and bishops from Limoges, France, from whence the saints originally hailed, campaigned tirelessly for over 60 years to have the painting reinstalled, but by the time their pleas were addressed, the painting had already found its way into another Italian museum collection.