Anna Maria Josephine Reitz and her family had a spectacular jewelry collection. And after she died, a local jeweler used it to make something special.
In 1929, David Cohn, one of the founders of Kruckemeyer & Cohn Fine Jewelry, designed a gold chalice for Reitz. She donated it to Holy Trinity Catholic Church just before her death. Cohn then used the chalice, along with her jewelry, to create a tribute to the church.
The result is known as the Reitz Chalice. It contains 507 diamonds, 15 rubies, seven sapphires, pearls, and emeralds. At the base, six engraved medallions tell of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Francis, St. Joseph, St. Peter, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and St. Michael the Archangel.
Sept. 19, the chalice will again be very briefly put on public display during the Jewel of the City Ball at the Evansville Country Club. Proceeds benefit the Reitz Home Museum, as well as Holy Trinity.
Karan Pastora, Reitz Home Museum Guild Ball chair and vice president of the board of directors, says the museum’s board members feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to show off this rarely seen treasure.
“It’s going to be a very exciting black tie formal event,” says Pastora. “It really is a jewel of the city, this chalice and the museum, and they are intertwined. This is going to be, in my opinion, the most elegant event in Evansville this year.”
The Evansville Diocese, working on behalf of Holy Trinity, is particularly sensitive about giving out too many details about the chalice. There are limits as to what the Reitz Home Museum can divulge, like the chalice’s worth, size, and other specific details. And that only adds to the mystery.
The original chalice was crafted by Cohn in Germany, though it’s unclear why it couldn’t be made in the U.S. And the date 1830 is etched into the base, though that year has no clear significance to the Reitz family.
Although it was once regularly used in communion ceremonies, today the chalice is rarely seen in public. It was briefly on display at the Reitz Home Gala in 1991. It was kept hidden for more than a decade until 2004, when it was shown at Kruckemeyer & Cohn Fine Jewelry. In 2011, the chalice was used in the installation ceremony of Most Reverend Charles C. Thompson as the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Evansville.
The ball is planned to be every bit as opulent as the chalice, with carefully decorated tables, finely prepared dishes, an 18-piece orchestra, candelabras, and Victorian-era clothing. It will be held from 6 to 11 p.m. in the ballroom at Evansville Country Club. Kruckemeyer and Cohn will display other pieces of jewelry for sale.
Tickets, which can be purchased by calling 812-867-3733, are $135 per person for non-members of the Reitz Museum, or $100 for members. Seating is limited to 375 guests, and the event is expected to sell out.
For more information about the Jewel of the City Ball and other events at the Reitz Home Museum, visit reitzhome.com.