How Much Gold Does the Catholic Church Own?

Over the last 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has amassed an immense quantity of priceless art and artifacts, many of which are made of gold.

Where did the gold come from? We need to remember that at no point did a Pope tell anyone to go out and collect gold to add to the Church’s holdings. The gold – often found in ceremonial items, church furnishings and artworks – is something that was amassed through the efforts of religious individuals and clergy who built cathedrals and churches, furnished them, and dedicated it all to the glorification of God.

Shown: the inside of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican in Rome shimmers with just some of the gold the Catholic Church owns, as described in this blog post for

Some of the gold is held at the Vatican, some at individual dioceses and churches, and some by the Vatican bank. That helps explain why no one seems to know exactly how much gold is owned by the Roman Catholic Church. However, some statistics are available. In 2013, the Vatican issued financial figures that stated that its holdings of gold and precious metals amounted to about $50 million dollars. We also know that the Vatican Bank, a financial institution that operates a lot like other banks, maintains reserves of gold worth about $20 million to secure its investments.

Gold constitutes only a portion of the Catholic Church’s wealth worldwide. The majority of that wealth resides in real estate, as well as in a portfolio of stocks and other investments that is similar to portfolios held by universities and wealthy individuals. And the art? Well, the Vatican happens to own Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and those alone are priceless.

And what about the Pope’s big gold chair – the one he occupies when he welcomes visitors to audiences in Rome? It’s interesting to note that it is really a wooden chair, covered with thin layers of gold leaf that can’t really be worth too much. So don’t judge Vatican wealth by the visuals.

What the Church’s Gold Holdings Could Mean to You

Not all the gold that the Church owns is in the Vatican, or even in Italy. Some of it could be as close to you as your nearest Catholic Church, or in a nearby convent, monastery or even in a Catholic school or university.

We also know that in many parts of America, including in New York City, the Church is actively closing churches and combining congregations in areas where attendance and membership have fallen. As churches become vacant, some are being sold to be used for other purposes or are demolished. In those cases, it can be possible to obtain gold and gold-bearing items in liquidation sales, or even on eBay if you search for “architectural scrap,” “gold church candelabra,” or other terms.

If you attend a church that is about to close, you can also help serve that institution by identifying its gold and gold-plated items and helping to assure that they are sold for their maximum worth.

Our qualified gold refining experts here at, part of Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners, are ready to assist you. If you call 800-426-2344, we will be happy to help you understand just what you own and to help you realize the biggest financial return for it.

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Selling Your Gold: What’s the Difference Between an Appraiser and an Assayer?