Rhodos under the Order of St John, Helion de Villeneuve, Gigliato

The gigliato was the medieval Italian groat, a coin thus with a value of several pennies (or, in Italian: denari). The name derived from the cross on the reverse whose arms ended in the form of a fleur-de-lis: "il giglio" is the Italian word for lily flower. In Christian belief the lily is the symbol of pure love and virginity, and therefore often stands for the Virgin Mary and her son Jesus. This symbolism was in line with the Hospitaller Order of Saint John in Jerusalem. The Order was founded after the sack of Jerusalem in the First Crusade (1099) for the care of poor, sick and wounded pilgrims. In time the Knights extended their actions to the armed defense of pilgrims and to military services for the Christian Crusader states; the hospitaller order became a military order. After the collapse of the Crusader states, the Order relocated to the island of Rhodes, where it remained for the next 200 years. This gigliato was struck under the reign of Helion de Villeneuve (1319-1346), the second Grand Master of the Order on Rhodes. The Knight is depicted in prayer on the obverse; the reverse bears the mentioned lily cross.