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The crossed keys symbolise the keys of The Kingdom of Heaven entrusted to Simon Peter, the foundational and immovable (rock) "living stone" upon which The Church is built.[1] Heaven's keys (given to and for the benefit of The Church[2] to overcome the prevalent, unrighteous loosening/binding practices of "the gates of hell"[3]) are depicted as gold and silver, representing the supreme power and authority available to living stones[4] to bind and loose on earth (silver) and in heaven (gold); necessary counter-measures against spiritual wickedness in high places.[5] The triple crown (the tiara) represents the pope's three functions as "supreme pastor", "supreme teacher" and "supreme priest". The gold cross on a monde (globe) surmounting the tiara symbolizes the sovereignty of Jesus.

Papal regalia and insignia are the official items of attire and decoration proper to the Pope in his capacity as the head of the Roman Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State.


Among the regalia of the papacy, the most famous is almost certainly the Triregnum (a crown with three levels), also called the Tiara or Triple Crown but never to be called "Triple Tiara". "Tiara" is the name of the entire headdress. Paul VI used it on 30 June 1963, at the coronation that was then part of the Papal Inauguration. For several centuries, Popes have worn it during processions, as when entering or leaving Saint Peter's Basilica, but during liturgies they used an episcopal mitre instead. Pope Benedict XVI has replaced the tiara with a mitre on his personal coat of arms, but not on the coat of arms of the Holy See or of the Vatican City State.

Another famous part of the Papal regalia is the Ring of the Fisherman, a gold ring decorated with a depiction of St. Peter in a boat casting his net, with the name of the reigning Pope around it. The Fisherman's Ring was first mentioned in a letter of Pope Clement IV to his nephew in 1265 wherein he mentions that Popes were accustomed to sealing public documents with a leaden "bulla" attached, and private letters with "the seal of the Fisherman" (by the fifteenth century, the Fisherman's Ring was used to seal Papal briefs). The Fisherman's Ring is placed on the newly-elected Pope's finger by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church; on the Pope's death, the Cardinal Chamberlain used to formally deface and smash the Fisherman's Ring with a hammer, symbolising the end of the late Pope's authority.

Modern popes do not bear a crozier (a bent pastoral staff styled after a shepherd's crook), but rather bear the Papal Cross, a staff topped by a crucifix. The use of the papal cross is an ancient custom, established before the thirteenth century, though some popes since then, notably Pope Leo XIII, have used a crozier-like staff.

One of the most striking (and now discontinued) trappings of the Papacy was the Sedia gestatoria, a portable throne or armchair carried by twelve footmen (palafrenieri) in red uniforms. The sedia gestatoria is accompanied by two attendants bearing the Flabella, large ceremonial fans made of white ostrich-feathers, which also had a practical intent in cooling the pope, given the heat of Rome in summer months, the length of papal ceremonies, the heavy papal vestments and the fact that most popes were elderly. The sedia gestatoria was used for the Pope's solemn entrance into a church or hall and for his departure on the occasion of liturgical celebrations such as a papal Mass and for papal audiences. The use of the sedia gestatoria was discontinued by Pope John Paul II, that of the flabella by Pope Paul VI. Neither have been abolished however.

The Pope...


Pope Leo XIII in papal vestments (falda, stole, mantum and tiara).

The Pope wears the Pallium over his chasuble when celebrating Mass. The pallium is a circular band of fabric about two inches wide, from which two twelve-inch-long pendants hang down, one in the front and one in back. It is ornamented with six small, red crosses distributed about the shoulders, breast and back, and is fixed in place by three golden pins, symbolic of the nails with which Christ was crucified. Only the pope wears the pallium by right, and he may wear it at all ecclesiastical functions without restriction. In the Latin/Western rite of the church, metropolitans (that is, archbishops who are the senior bishops of an ecclesiastical province) also wear a form of the pallium within their own province, and which they must receive from the pope, either personally or in a ceremony at which another bishop delegated by the pope presides. Pope Benedict XVI, for his inauguration in 2005, introduced a special type of pallium that is worn only by the pope. The new papal pallium is based upon the earlier form of the pallium (similar to the omophorion which is still worn by Eastern Christian bishops to this day). The papal pallium is wider and longer than the ordinary pallium, and has red crosses on it, representing the blood of Christ.

A vestment which is restricted to the pope alone is the Fanon made out of alternating silver and gold stripes. The fanon is similar to a shawl, one end of which is passed under the stole and the second over the chasuble; the pallium is then placed over the fanon. The fanon has gone out of common use in recent times but its use has not been altogether abolished, as Pope John Paul II made use of the fanon on a few occasions.

Prior to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, there were a number of other vestments which were worn only by the pope:

  • The Sub-cinctorium—a strip of embroidered fabric similar to a maniple which is suspended from the cincture. It is embroidered with a cross and the Agnus Dei.
  • The Falda—a particular papal vestment which forms a long skirt extending beneath the hem of the alb. The skirts of the falda are so long that the pope needs train-bearers both in front and in back whenever he walks.
  • The Mantum—a very long cope worn only by the pope. Originally, it was red in color, but later was made to correspond to the liturgical colours.

When the pope stands on his throne or at the sedia gestatoria, both the falda and the mantum flow down to the lower steps, and has the effect of making the pope look taller than the other dignitaries present. All three of these vestments were discontinued during the reign of Pope Paul VI, but not abolished.

  • A special maniple, much the same in form as maniples worn by priests, but with intertwined red and gold threads to symbolize the union of the Eastern and Western Churches.

Choir dress

Pope Benedict XVI in choir dress (red shoes, white cassock with fringed fascia, rochet, red mozzetta, embroidered red stole, gold pectoral cross on cord, and white zucchetto).

When not celebrating religious services, the pope wears a distinctive choir dress. Choir dress is worn when attending—but not celebrating—services, and formal occasions, such as audiences. On less formal occasions, the pope wears ordinary dress.

The most immediately noticeable feature is a white cassock and zucchetto (skull cap). Only the pope is permitted to wear a cassock made out of watered silk. The cassock used to have a train on it, but Pope Pius XII discontinued this custom. For convenience, the train could be folded up and fastened to the back of the cassock. He used to wear a tufted fascia (white sash-like belt fastened about the waist, the ends of which fall down past the knees and are often embroidered with the pope's coat of arms), until Paul VI replaced it with a simpler fringed sash. Previously, the tufted fascia (terminating in gold tassels) was worn with choir dress, and the fringed fascia (terminating in a simpler gold fringe) was worn with ordinary dress.

Over his cassock the pope will wear a lace rochet. Over the rochet is worn the red papal mozzetta, a shoulder cape that has a collar and is buttoned all the way down the front. The red color is a vestige from the days when scarlet was the papal color (white only became associated with the papacy after the Napoleonic wars). The papal mozzetta had a small hood on the back, which disappeared after Vatican II but has recently been restored. In wintertime, the papal mozzetta is of red velvet trimmed with ermine (this also fell out of use after Vatican II, but Pope Benedict XVI recently began again to wear a winter mozzetta trimmed in white fur). In summer, the papal mozzetta is of red satin. The pope wears a pectoral cross suspended on a gold cord over the mozzetta. He may also choose to wear a red stole with gold embroidery over the mozzetta, even when he is not officiating at a service.

Traditionally during the Octave of Easter, the pope wears the white paschal mozzetta, which is of white damask silk trimmed with white ermine. While the paschal mozzetta fell out of use during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, it was returned to use in 2008 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Since the 13th Century many papal portraits have shown the pontiff wearing the camauro, a red velvet cap which covers the ears, and is trimmed with ermine. The camauro fell out of fashion with the death of Pope John XXIII, but has recently been revived by Pope Benedict XVI.

Traditionally, he wears special red satin or velvet papal slippers indoors, and red leather papal shoes outdoors. The papal shoes were traditionally red, though Pope John Paul II would sometimes wear black or brown leather shoes. Pope Benedict XVI has restored the use of the traditional red papal shoes.

Ordinary dress

Pope Benedict XVI in ordinary dress (red papal shoes, white simar with fringed fascia, pectoral cross, and white zucchetto).

The pope's ordinary dress (also called house dress), which is worn for daily use outside of liturgical functions, consists of a white simar (cassock with a shoulder cape attached to it) girded with the fringed white fascia (often with the papal coat of arms embroidered on it), the pectoral cross suspended from a gold cord, the red papal shoes, and the white zucchetto. On more formal occasions, the pope may wear a red cape similar to the ferraiuolo except for its gold decoration. Alternately, he may wear a red cape with a shoulder cape attached. Outdoors, the pope may wear the cappello romano, a wide-brimmed hat used by all grades of clergy. While most other clergy wear a black cappello romano, the pope's is usually red (although it may also be white).


The coat of arms of Vatican City.

Equally famous as the triregnum and perhaps more important a symbol of the Papacy is the image of two Crossed Keys, one gold and one silver, bound with a red cord. This represents the "keys to the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 16:19; cf. Isaiah 22:22) and is in many ways the quintessential symbol of the Papacy as an institution and of its central role within the Catholic Church. Jesus's statement to Simon Peter, "whatever you bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven", is understood in Roman Catholic theology as establishing two jurisdictions, Heaven and Earth; the silver and gold keys are said to represent these two jurisdictions. The silver key symbolises the power to bind and loose on Earth, and the gold key the power to bind and loose in Heaven (another interpretation says that the silver key represents "binding" and the golden key represents "loosing").

Flag of Vatican City.

The umbraculum, emblem of the Papacy during a sede vacante

The primary emblem of the Papacy is these two keys beneath a triregnum. This symbol is used in several instances. The Pope's personal arms are surmounted by the aforementioned two keys in saltire behind the escutcheon (one key silver and one key gold, tied with a red cord), and above them the silver triregnum bearing three gold crowns and red infulae (the lappets which hang down from the back of the tiara and fall over the shoulders when it is worn).

The yellow and white flag of Vatican City also makes use of this emblem on the right hand side in the white half of the flag. The yellow and white colours were first adopted in 1808 as the flag of the personal guard of Pius VII, when the other forces of what had been the Papal States were brought under Napoleon's control. The previous flag was red and gold, the traditional colours of the city of Rome. The 1808 flag was of course not that of Vatican City, which did not come into existence until 1929.


Holy See coat of arms

The coat of arms of the Holy See and Vatican City also uses this Papal emblem. The arms are blazoned: gules, two keys in saltire or and argent, interlacing in the rings gules/or, beneath a tiara argent, crowned or. This means: on a red field are placed two keys, crossed as in the letter X, one gold, the other silver, bound by a cord placed through the rings, and, above the keys, a silver (white-coloured) tiara with gold (yellow-coloured) crowns. The arms are identical, except that according to a custom since 1929, the keys may be reversed on the arms of the Holy See.[6] The colour of the cord is usually red ("gules"), but is sometimes rendered gold ("or") for contrast with the red of the shield.

The umbraculum (better known in the Italian form ombrellino) is a canopy or umbrella (consisting of alternating red and gold stripes, the traditional colours of the city of Rome and so, until 1808, of the papacy) whose original function was quite simply to provide shade. As it was traditionally a royal prerogative to walk beneath a canopy, Pope Alexander VI began using the umbraculum to symbolise the temporal powers of the Papacy; it was formerly carried by a man standing behind the Pope, and features in the Coat of arms of the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church (who administers the property of the Holy See sede vacante) and the former arms of the Papal States. The practice of walking with the umbraculum has been discontinued, although it continues to feature in ecclesiastical heraldry and remains the insigne of a basilica, usually displayed to the right of the main altar. It is sometimes carried in processions as a sign of a basilica's dignity.


  1. Matt 16:15-18
  2. Matt 16:18-19
  3. Matt 16:18-19
  4. Matt 18:1,18; 1Pet 2:5
  5. (Eph 6:12)
  6. "Vatican City (Holy See)". 2006-03-25. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 

See also

External links

ko:교황의 레갈리아와 휘장 hu:Pápai jelvények ru:Папские регалии и знаки отличия uk:Папські регалії та відзнаки