In this cabinet Catholic host wafers are emblazoned with a gold cross of the Order of Christ, an icon associated with the Portuguese voyages of discovery and flown on the caravels that sailed around the African coast in the 1500s.
The Belém Monstrance was made in 1506 from gold brought to Lisbon by Vasco da Gama in 1502. The gold was paid by the king of Tanzania as a sign of submission to the crown of Portugal, King Manuel I. The monstrance, a liturgical vessel designed to carry the Eucharistic host, was commissioned by King Manuel I and left in his will to the Jeronimos Monastery in Belém. Today gold is worth $50, 000/kg and rhino horn $60, 000/kg on the black market.
The Tower of Belém was built between 1514 and 1520, during the reign of Manuel I as a fortification to protect the port of Lisbon. The design incorporated iconography from the recent return of Vasco da Gama from explorations to the East, and the turrets are decorated with stone carvings of exotic animals, one of them Ganda the Indian rhinoceros who arrived in Lisbon during its construction in 1515.