Coat of Arms of Pope Francis

Here is the coat of arms of Pope Francis. It’s like his coat of arms as a cardinal, except the cardinal’s hat is changed to… wait for it… not a papal tiara but a bishop’s miter.

Here is his coat of arms as Cardinal Bergoglio:

The coats of arms of previous popes all had a tiara, even after popes no longer wore it.

Pope John XXIII:

Paul VI:

John Paul I:

John Paul II:

Benedict XVI:

At one point this banner appeared with a new coat of arms. It caused some uproar, and the Vatican clarified that it wasn’t Benedict’s new coat of arms. (Pray Tell incorrectly reported earlier that it was.)

OK, I’ll be really honest. I don’t think Pope Francis’ coat of arms looks too great. In conception and proportion, it’s a step backward from what he had in Argentina. So it goes.

awr

 

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29 comments

  1. I wonder why the pallium has gone or if it was just omitted in haste. Fr. Lombardi seemed a little surprised by the question at the press briefing.

    Also, Fr. Anthony, I don’t think its fair to say that Benedict XVI’s arms were really ‘changed back’. All the people who were disappointed at his original choice were always dying to put his arms under the tiara and trying various ways to restore a tiara – but even after the whole banner fiasco, it was clarified that the mitre was the correct version.

    1. Joshua – thanks for the helpful information. So what was the banner fiasco, do you know? They put it on display but shouldn’t have becauase it’s not the real one?
      awr

      1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #5:
        It was covered on NCR – no reported heart attacks….snarkiness increases when you are busy doing damage control…traddies seem worried – why? Has anyone checked with Cdl Burke lately – is he suspending his EF celebrations with cappa magna and galero until he tests the winds?

  2. I wish they would have modified the shape and scale of the shield a bit and retained the pallium. The Italian media clarified this evening that the bunch of grapes are not eucharistic but reference the shape of an Argentinian flower that honors Saint Joseph. Hence we have Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Not much more traditional than that!

  3. I confess that it leaves me cold, too – but then, so did John Paul II’s.

    It looks like a slap-up job with an unimaginative shield. But this kind of spartan simplicity seems to be fit with what we know of his personality. And Mr. Thomas is right: You can’t go completely wrong with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, however lacking their background might be.

    Well, I trust the Holy See will survive, even if we heraldry enthusiasts will have to nurse our sorrows in steins of Antares IPA.

  4. I just don’t see how Pope Francis’s is that much different than those of other popes, i.e. it doesn’t look too bad to me.

  5. Can I say that I am a bit disappointed that Francis has bothered with a coat of arms? I think that papal coats of arms are just accretions rather than traditions, since they are examples of the Church copying the customs of the World, and are a very long way from the gospels.

    Who has a personal coat of arms these days anyway? As far as I can tell Presidents and prime ministers don’t, captains of industry don’t, people of genuine achievement don’t. Is it only monarchs, peers, and those with delusions of grandeur? Oh, and some bishops.

    Why should the universal Church in the twenty-first century want to continue with a bad habit it picked up from European tyrants in the Middle Ages?

    1. @Rom Kiul – comment #9:

      Isn’t the Great Seal of the United States analogous to a coat of arms? The seal is on every podium from which the President speaks. It’s emblazoned on his aircraft, embossed on citizens’ passports, and is even found on the reverse of the $1 bill.

      It’s true that President Obama doesn’t have the choice of dressing like a renaissance Italian prince. Still, both he and the Holy Father have symbols which represent their nation and their executive authority. In this context, don’t see why the pope shouldn’t have a coat of arms.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #11:
        The US President has the Great Seal, Nike has its “swoosh”, Guinness has the harp, Lacoste a crocodile, and so on.

        If the Pope must have a logo so that people can get a visual reminder of who he is and what he represents, why not just the simple crossed keys? Better still: why not just a cross?

      2. @Rom Kiul – comment #12:

        Rom, because the Logo needs to be specific to his reign specifically. ie, it can’t just be a “logo” for the papacy, but for his reign, because it will be put on things like plaques and buildings from that period and thus provide a “visual history” in the future of what popes did what, of when things were happening.

    2. @Rom Kiul – comment #9:
      Too true, Rom. So very “of the world”. Popes should stop taking new names as well, it only indicates they think something big of themselves. Also, the word “pope” ought to be dropped. We all have our own grandfathers anyway. The idea of a “papa” presiding over us from a city that was the centre of the world’s most successful empire is simply rife with patriarchy and memories of oppression, and quite out of date. Maybe he should be called chairman, or simply sir leader- even the term “bishop” is translated from the Greek language. A language that, after all, only became common by way of that tyrant Alexander’s imperialism. Just brother, maybe? Older brother? I don’t know. Maybe you can help me think of more suggestions for purifying our religion.

  6. Interesting that the star and spikenard flower were changed from argent (silver – the Rive Plate….) in his episcopal arms to or (gold) for his papal arms. I guess he wanted to tone down the Argentine references (even though that Jesuit symbol has an echo in the sun on the Argentine national arms).

    JP2’s arms were very odd.

  7. The shield is too wide, and the arms could benefit from the addition of pallium, which would make it a bit longer. It seems they added the motto as a last-minute thing to balance out the length to width ratio, but overall, the whole figure is a bit meh.

  8. Joshua Vas : I wonder why the pallium has gone or if it was just omitted in haste. Fr. Lombardi seemed a little surprised by the question at the press briefing. Also, Fr. Anthony, I don’t think its fair to say that Benedict XVI’s arms were really ‘changed back’. All the people who were disappointed at his original choice were always dying to put his arms under the tiara and trying various ways to restore a tiara – but even after the whole banner fiasco, it was clarified that the mitre was the correct version.

    I’ve seen other renderings of Francis’ coat of arms that include the pallium. These other renderings show that Francis’ personal achievement (apart from the shield, of course) is identical to the personal achievement of Pope Benedict XVI. I understand, incidentally, that heraldic authorities refuse to acknowledge the new miter on the personal papal arms as a heraldic miter at all. They insist that, heraldically speaking, it is a “papal tiara stylized to resemble a bishop’s miter”.

  9. Cuff links, lace, Mozzettas, and Palliums on shields, aside. I think he would make a strong statement of the Bishop Rome used the bishop’s crozier. IMO.
    I read that Leo XIII used a crozier instead…if you trust the internet and blogs. 😉

  10. Chuck Middendorf : Cuff links, lace, Mozzettas, and Palliums on shields, aside. I think he would make a strong statement of the Bishop Rome used the bishop’s crozier. IMO. I read that Leo XIII used a crozier instead…if you trust the internet and blogs.

    I don’t. Popes didn’t process with pastoral staffs in Leo’s time; they were carried aloft on the sedia gestatoria and held no staff when processing to and from the throne. The ferula was used only extraordinarily, and not like a crozier. Only with Paul VI did the popes begin to use a pastoral staff.

    Traditionally, the papal ferula has three horizontal bars, but this form hasn’t been seen in…well…a long, long time.

  11. I was curious about papal tiaras and coats of arms, and discovered (via Wikipedia) apparently Pope Innocent III (reign started in 1198) was the first to have a coat of arms with a papal tiara. Unless that Wiki entry is wrong, Pope Francis has removed a tradition that’s over 800 years old. That’s pretty remarkable.

    1. @Kim Patrick Clow – comment #21:

      It would not be far wrong – Formal European heraldry only started in about that era (though it has a pre-history which goes back an indeterminate amount of time).

      However, Pope Francis has not removed any tradition, given he is just following what Pope Benedict did.

    2. @Kim Patrick Clow – comment #21:Kim,

      It was Benedict that removed the tiara. I think, perhaps, a sign that his view of the papacy is more nuanced than many tend to imagine- mozetta and all.

  12. I think the last time the three-barred papal ferula was used was by Pope John Paul 2 in connection with the extraordinary Holy Year for 1983.

  13. Jordan DeJonge : @Rom Kiul – comment #9: Maybe you can help me think of more suggestions for purifying our religion.

    Do you really need my help? You seem to be doing quite well. Perhaps you could decide each issue for yourself by asking whether St Peter would have welcomed the medieval accretions tacked on to the Petrine Ministry, and what Jesus would think of them.

  14. When Benedict replaced the papal tiera with that of a bishop’s mitre, it got little attention but it made a bold statement. It said that the office of Pope was that of a bishop, the bishop of Rome, the universal bishop/shepherd of the Church. The Tiera represented the political/spiritual power of the papacy and Paul VI put an end to the practice of using this symbol for the modern papacy in any form. He left his tiera in Washington, DC at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Popes are now “installed” not “crowned”. The threefold tiera was now replaced with a threefold mitre. I can’t see any future pope using the tiera either physically or in symbol again.

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