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Vatican City (Holy See) - Personal Flag and Arms of Benedict XVI

Last modified: 2006-03-18 by martin karner
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Today in the first public appearance of H.H. the Pope Benedict XVI in a balcony it was still used the Coat of Arms of H.H the Pope John Paul II. This will probably change in the next few days, when the new Pope would have its own Coat of Arms.
Francisco Gregoric, 19 April 2005

Papal Pennant

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 21 October 2005

In connection with the Pope's visit to Germany, there's a series of photos of the "Popemobile" being used for the trip at the website of the Cologne archdiocese, including one at <>, showing a pennant on the left fender, white with a yellow band at the hoist and Pope Benedict's personal arms in color in the fly.
Joe McMillan, 17 August 2005

See also photos at <> and <>.
Zachary Harden, 19 October 2005

Here is a photo (photographed in June 2005) of the car flag taken from <>.
Rev. William M. Becker, 23 November 2005

Coat of Arms of Benedict XVI

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 21 May 2005
(click here for image in PNG format contributed by Colin Alberts, 28 April 2005)

Benedict XVI is the first pope of modern times who will not use the tiara, the papal crown, in his Coat of Arms.
Jan-Patrick Fischer, 26 April 2005

Since his last three predecessors decided not to wear the tiara, and he has decided not to wear it either, perhaps he felt it was time to retire it from the arms also.
Ned Smith, 26 April 2005

The drawing of the arms that was included on the material distributed at the inauguration shows a piece of headgear atop the shield that is less ornate than the normal representation of either the tiara or a bishop's mitre.  Depending on the artist's tastes, a mitre can be shaped just like the tiara seen in profile (with curved sides), or it can have an angle part way up.  The headgear on the drawing is curved.  Also, three simple black bands are shown encircling the whatever-it-is.  I believe this is simply a modernized, stylized representation of the tiara.  Others believe it is a mitre, signifying heraldically the already established decision (since Paul VI) renouncing the actual wearing of a tiara.   Neither Benedict XVI nor the Holy See have issued any official statement on this matter.  In fact, as of this morning, there was still nothing official, other than the line drawing on the inauguration programs, on the new Pope's arms.  
Joe McMillan, 26 April 2005

Benedict XVI will, in fact, take new arms as pope and not use the same shield device as he did when Cardinal. The new arms are being devised even as I write, a sketch and explanation can be found at <> (in German), a clearer image of the arms can be seen at <>. In addition to a new bearings on the shield, the ornaments will also change. The mitre will replace the tiara and the pallium, now the distinctive mark of the papacy, will be added.
James A. Francis, 27 April 2005

Here the personal Coat of Arms of Pope Benedict XVI from <> [Note: this site currently show different arms same as above]. The description (in Italian) at <> [now obsolete]: "Descrizione dello stemma:   Interzato cappato: nel primo di Monaco, che è d'oro alla testa di moro nera coronata e ornata di rosso; nel secondo di Frisinga, che è d'oro all'orso di San Corbiniano di nero, passante, armato e lampassato di rosso, sostenente una soma dello stesso attraversata da una croce di Sant'Andrea d'argento; nel terzo d'azzurro alla conchiglia d'argento."
Abbreviation: "vorl. Papstwappen" = vorlaeufiges Papstwappen =  provisional Coat of Arms.
Jens Pattke, 27 April 2005

The image sent by Jens Pattke seems to show the wrong tiara. I thought only the papal mitra is used for the personal arms?
Dirk Schoenberger, 27 April 2005

I think that at <> it is a mitre- as Joe McMillan mentioned previously, sometimes the outline of a mitre and a tiara can be difficult to distinguish in a two-dimensional drawing. Perhaps in this case it was even intentionally drawn to be a bit ambiguous. Changing from tiara to mitre to "modernize" the arms, but keeping enough traces to evoke a resemblance to the tiara as a slight nod to tradition.
Ned Smith, 27 April 2005

The crest of this sketch, from the German site, shows a bishop's mitre; Jens' post shows the papal tiara, which is official (if that's the right word). On second look, it may be a pope's mitre. I think they wear that in their capacity as bishop of Rome. In any event, it's not the tiara, which is rarely worn.
Albert S. Kirsch, 27 April 2005

I happen to be reading "The Pope Encyclopedia: An A to Z of the Holy See" this morning (Matthew Bunson, Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1995), and it mentions that Paul VI stopped wearing the tiara after Vatican II, but not that it was officially retired by the Council. (Also that he had four tiaras to choose from, including the one Joe described.) The critical moment seems to have been when John Paul I chose to be invested with the pallium instead of the tiara. John Paul II did the same at his investiture and never subsequently wore the tiara. As Benedict XVI's installation mass showed, that seems to be the new tradition.
A question, I suppose, is whether the tiara will ever be removed from the papal arms, and therefore from the papal flag.
Andrew S. Rogers, 27 April 2005

If is confirmed, seems evident that when assuming Pontifical Seat the New Pope would choose re-ordering his Arms as Cardinal that way which the cross-quartering is now “manteled” in curve generating three quarters: the dexter flank in Or (yellow) loaded with a Moor king; the sinister flank, also in Or (yellow), presenting a bear passant in its color and disposed in band armed with a little shield in Gules (red) with a saltire in Argent (white); the base in Azure (blue) loads a shell in Argent (white).
According to which is has been possible infer to us from the consulted and previously referred sources, first quarter represents Munich whereas the second one Freising: localities that conform the Archbishopric which were titular then Cardinal Ratzinger whilst the shell, symbol of conversion and baptism alludes to Saint Augustine (history of the boy who wants put the sea in a hole) and the desire of Benedict XVI to fish souls in the sea of the Humanity. Cardinal Ratzinger’s Motto is "Cooperatores Veritatis" ("Cooperators for the Truth"); nevertheless, even though we could consider it a fact, is preferable to wait that the Pope reafirms it before the asumption of his new responsibilities.
Finally, may be interesting to precise if the charge on the First Quarter is really a "Moor head" like it has been described in some cases because, until we can remember, such charges are usually represented like human faces in Sable (black) without another attributes and when they have it, are generally a bandage representing turbans describing it into Spanish like "cabezas de moro tortilladas” (something like “bandaged Moor heads"). Soon, the characteristics with usually is represented Moor heads are from black race and this particular case it’s an European face but enameled in black and crowned. Consequently, we bold ourselves to describe it like "Moor king" hoping that anyone of our Distinguished Colleagues has the amiability to clearing us with regards to the matter.
Raul Orta, 27 April 2005

A B&W drawing of the new Papal arms can be foun d in today's edition of The Times newspaper, together with a description and discussion of the history of the heraldry etc. See <>.
Ron Lahav and Ned Smith, 27 April 2005

The headdress shown in the provisional Coat of Arms is a mitre. A tiara is usually shown with three crowns (whether jewelled or fleuretté), and is sometimes depicted in having a bullet-shape (smooth, round sides ending in a point), and sometimes (as in reality) a "squished" bullet- shape.  Illustration may be seen at <>.  
A mitre (whether bishop's, abbot's, or otherwise) may seem to be round when worn, but in reality has a stretched pentagonal shape. This is because when the bishop is not wearing it, it is folded down, so that it is not cumbersome to carry.  The two "hard" edges on the sides allow it to be folded, something well nigh impossible with something like the tiara (ever tried to flatten a big piece of orange peel?).   An illustration of the mitre, for comparison, can be seen at <>.   I can vouch for this from experience, having been an altar boy, serving at masses with the the Most Rev. Anthony Tonnos, titular bishop of Naziona and Bishop of the Diocese of Hamilton, and the Most Rev. Attila Mikloshazy, S.J., titular bishop of Castel Minore and Bishop for Hungarian Emigrants throughout the world when they came to officiate at my parish (a not uncommon event, actually!).  I have had the privilege to hold both their crosiers and mitres (and gotten in trouble for fiddling with the mitre!). That the mitre illustrated in the provisonal arms has three "fesses" (to use a heraldic term) may be to designate its Papal status, by incorporating the three crowns of the tiara into mitre form.  This last is my personal observation, and assumption.
Georges G. Kovari, 28 April 2005

Here is an image of Coat of Arms of HH Benedictus XVI from the German newspaper "Sueddeutsche Zeitung";  Munich; 26 April 2005 (Info by Erich Dieter Linder).
Jens Pattke, 28 April 2005

There are very similar to the arms used when he was a cardinal.  The papal tiara has been dropped in favour of a bishop's mitre, apparently to lessen emphasis on the regality of the papacy, but the mitre has three gold bands echoing the three coronets on tiara. See <>.
Garry Dent, 29 April 2005

At <> there is a new version for the Coat of Arms would be use by Benedict XVI. Here is part of the text that accompanies it, written up by Monsignor Guy Silvester:
"The Pope was Installed last Sunday. We still await official word on the Coat of Arms of Benedict XVI. Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo (...) designed the new pope's arms and added two innovations: the pallium and a mitre instead of the tiara. The pallium is ill-placed and Catholic bishops do not ensign their arms with a mitre as per legislation laid down in 1969 by Pope Paul VI. So, these innovations are weird and unofficial. The tiara is still the symbol in heraldry for the arms of a pope. A mitre with two keys would indicate the arms of an Anglican Bishop! I personally believe there is this lag in the Holy See displaying the arms of the pope because they are still tweaking it so that it looks less bizarre. Nevertheless, it seems the design of the shield has been settled on. It is illustrated at right".
However, judging by the image in this opportunity it's possible to appreciate that  the contour of the field still has not been defined; on second quarter, was enameled in Sable (black) the vane with which is joined the bulk or knapsack to the bear and on the third one was replaced enamels entirely: Azure (blue) by Gules (red) on the field and Argent (white) by Or (yellow) for the shell. As far as  ornaments, in this opportunity appears a tiara like crest.
Raul Orta, 29 April 2005

The tinctures of his arms are exactly those of the German arms and flag: red, black and golden yellow.
Juan Jose Morales, 30 April 2005

Guy Silvester wrote in his site <>:
During the past week I have received a huge number of emails asking me what I think about the fact that the Pope has "broken with tradition" by not using the Papal Tiara (or triregno) on his coat of arms. I reply that as far as I know he has done no such thing.
The drawing of the papal arms that was used on the card or programme from his Installation was obviously thrown together in just a few days. It may not yet be the final version. In addition, the article which appeared in l'Osservatore Romano doesn't impress me as definitive either. That newspaper is the UNofficial paper of the Vatican and the article was simply an interview with Archbishop Montezemolo (who drew the arms). He's a retired Vatican diplomat who is an amateur heraldist.
So much has been made of the fact that, as Catholic News Service put it, the "tiara has once again been given the boot". We don't know that has happened. The Sala Stampa (the OFFICIAL source of news about the Holy See and the Pope) has said nothing on the matter yet and the image of the Pope's arms has yet to appear anywhere on the Vatican website. In fact, on the Pope's bio page they're still displaying the arms he bore as cardinal. All this suggests to me that there may very well still be more work being done. When John XXIII was Pope he sent (the late) poor Bruno Heim back to the drawing board three times just to get the facial features of the lion in his coat of arms correct!
It is, I think, important to note the following. In my personal opinion the impetus to remove the tiara from the papal arms has not come from the Pope. Rather, it is those around him who are thinking liturgically but know very little heraldically who are urging this to happen. They make much out of the fact that the tiara is no longer worn. Big deal! It remains as a heraldic symbol whether it is worn or not! The galeros (ecclesiastical hats) that ensign the arms of all clerics (see my heraldry page) aren't worn anymore either but they remain as a heraldic symbol. The two keys of Peter used in Papal arms don't even exist! They are just a symbol of the power to bind and to loose. This Pope is very interested in maintaining a connection to the tradition of the Church (evidenced by his decision to deliver his first message to the Church in Latin and to use that Universal language of the Church for his Inastallation Mass as well) so I think there may be a chance yet that the tiara is maintained in his arms. Catholic bishops do not ensign their shields with a mitre. In fact, they have been forbidden to do so in legislation laid down by Pope Paul VI in 1969!
It is also important to note that even if the mitre/tiara hybrid created by Montezemolo is maintained in the papal arms that does not mean that the Pope will be changing heraldic custom. Instead he'll simply be ignoring it in the same way that including the pallium in a Papal coat of arms ignores heraldic custom. The external ornaments that indicate the rank of the bearer of a particular coat of arms are often in dispute...especially in the Church. To this day many prelates want to use ornaments to which they aren't entitled or eschew the ornaments they should use.
What really matters is what is on the shield. That, after all, is the actual coat of arms. Pope Benedict XVI has chosen arms which may not be to everyone's liking but which are heraldically sound. As to the ornaments surrounding the shield, well, artistic license is permitted and surely will be used. His arms will continue to be depicted ensigned by the Papal tiara whether he likes it or not! The bottom line remains that the triregno is the symbol of the papacy and will remain such no matter what hybrid, bizarre form some heraldic dabblers choose to put it in.
When there is an official announcement then we'll all know for sure (...)”
Raul Orta, 30 April 2005

The apparently final version has no blue or white; the bottom field was changed to a yellow shell on red.
But I think the color combination has nothing to do with German patriotism; it happens to be the color combination in the arms of the diocese of Munich and Freising and the city of Freising, which occupy the upper two fields of the pope's arms. Both long predating the Schwarz-Rot-Gold of the German flag.
Joe McMillan, 1 May 2005

See image and explanation in Spanish at <>.
Nelson L. Roman, 2 May 2005

From <>:
"The coat of arms of Pope Benedict XVI incorporates both papal elements, as well as the elements of the coat of arms he bore as Archbishop of München (Munich) and Freising, and as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Miter. The miter replaces the "beehive" tiara familiar from former papal coats of arms. Pope Paul VI dropped the ceremonial use of the tiara, although he, and his immediate successors John Paul I and John Paul II, retained it in their coats of arms. Benedict XVI has replaced it with the miter, on which is emblazoned three gold bands representing "order, jurisdiction and magisterium."
These are the symbolic equivalents of the three layers of the tiara. They are connected into a unity by the vertical gold strip, representing the unity of these three kinds of authority in the person of the Supreme Pontiff.
Pallium. The use of the white pallium with black crosses draped below the shield is a new addition to papal coats of arms. It represents episcopal authority, the special kind of jurisdiction that is reserved to metropolitan archbishops in their province and to the pope universally in the Church, what is called the plenitudo pontificalis officii (i.e. the plenitude of pontifical office). The style of pallium shown on the coat of arms, black crosses on a narrow band of wool, is what is commonly known from the second millennium, though the crosses have sometimes been red, sometimes black. At his inaugural Mass, Pope Benedict wore an older style of pallium, broad with red crosses, and hanging down from the left shoulder rather than in the middle. This style is more typical of the first millennium, and similar to the omophorion representing episcopal authority in the Eastern Church.
Crossed Keys. The two crossed keys symbolize the powers Christ gave to the Apostle Peter and to his successors.
"I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19)
The gold key represents the power to bind in heaven and the silver key spiritual authority on earth. The two keys are united by the cord, again indicating their essential unity in Peter and his successors.
Caput Ethiopicum. According to the website of his former Archdiocese:
"The shield, which is divided into three sections, displays the “Moor of Freising." The Moor’s head, facing left and typically crowned, appeared on the coat of arms of the old principality of Freising as early as 1316, during the reign of the Bishop of Freising, Prince Konrad III, and it remained almost unchanged until the “secularization” of the Church’s estates in that region in 1802-1803. Ever since that time the archbishops of Munich and Freising have included the Caput Aethiopum, the head of an Ethiopian, in their episcopal coat of arms."
Bear of Corbinian. Also present on the coat of arms is a bear with a pack-saddle, the so-called “Bear of Corbinian." The saintly Bishop Corbinian preached the Christian faith in the Duchy of Bavaria in the 8th century and is considered the spiritual father and patron of the archdiocese. A legend states that he traveled to Rome with a bear as his pack-animal, after having commanded it to do so. Once he arrived, he released the bear from his service, and it returned to Bavaria. The implication is that "Christianity tamed and domesticated the ferocity of paganism and thus laid the foundations for a great civilization in the Duchy of Bavaria." At the same time, Corbinian’s Bear, as God’s beast of burden, symbolizes the burden of office.
Scallop Shell. The symbolism of the shell is multiple. St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (354-430 AD), was once walking along the seashore, meditating on the unfathomable mystery of the Holy Trinity. A boy was using a shell to pour seawater into a little hole. When Augustine asked him what he was doing, he replied, “I am emptying the sea into this hole.” Thus did Augustine understand that man would never penetrate to the depths of the mystery of God. Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, in 1953, wrote his doctoral dissertation on “The People of God and the House of God in Augustine’s Teaching about the Church," and therefore has a personal connection with the thought of this great Doctor of the Church.
The shell also stands for pilgrimage, for “Jacob’s staff,” a pilgrim’s staff topped with a scallop shell. In Church art it is a symbol of the apostle James the Great, and his sanctuary at Santiago de Compostela in Spain, perhaps the principal place of pilgrimage during the middle ages. This symbol alludes, as well, to “the pilgrim people of God,” a title for the Church which Joseph Ratzinger championed at the Second Vatican Council as peritus (theological adviser) to Cardinals Frings of Köln (Cologne). When he became Archbishop he took the shell in his coat of arms. It is also found in the insignia of the Schottenkloster in Regensburg, where the major seminary of that diocese is located, a place where Benedict XVI taught as a professor of theology.
We do not yet know what the motto of Pope Benedict XVI will be. However, his episcopal motto was "cooperatores veritatis" (collaborators of the truth)."
William Belanich, 2 May 2005

Agreed the pallium is new, but disagree on the tiara. What is shown as a mitre still bears the three gold circlets which were the feature of the tiara and refer to the three realms of papal authority.  In effect this is a simplification of the tiara, not a substitution.
Michael Faul, 5 May 2005

The tiara, as also the mitre, hat, chapeau, and any such headgear, is equivalent to the helm of a knightly coat of arms.   A full achievement including a tiara could include a crest - as well as a crown, wreath, mantle, motto scroll, war-cry, supporters/tenants, compartment, collar(s), or trophies, but not a helm.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 18 May 2005

According to the image now at Vatican.VA, the bear is brown and its cargo is red with a black saltire; the three crosses on the pallium are red.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 21 May 2005

The pallium is worn by metropolitan archbishops within their own area of jurisdiction only, but worn by The Holy Father everywhere. Benedict XVI was invested with this at his Inauguration Ceremony. One of the better online descriptions is to be found here on The Vatican's own web site, in the remarks of John Paul the Great at his General Audience of Wednesday 30 June 1999: " The pallium is a small circular band in the form of a stole, set with six crosses. It is woven of white wool from the shearing of lambs blessed every year on 21 January, the feast of St Agnes. The Pope confers the pallium on newly appointed Metropolitan Archbishops. It expresses the authority which, in communion with the Church of Rome, the Metropolitan acquires by law in his own Ecclesiastical Province (General Audience of John Paul II Wednesday 30 June 1999, CIC, can. 437, §1)."
On this page you can see a picture of The Holy Father wearing his pallium on the outside of his papal vestments. The gold coloured nails symbolise those used to nail Jesus to the cross.
Colin Dobson, 21 May 2005

According to Catholic News Service: "The details of the new papal blazon were first published in the April 28 edition of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. A copy was released April 27 to journalists."
Kristian Söderberg, 26 May 2005

Here is the updated information and image from the official Vatican website:
"Coat of Arms of His Holiness Benedict XVI
Armour bearings have been in common use by soldiers and the nobility since the Middle Ages. This has given rise to a very specific heraldic language to regulate and describe civic heraldry.
At the same time, an ecclesiastical heraldry for clergy also developed. This heraldic usage follows exactly the same rules as civic heraldry with regard to the composition and definition of the shield, but surrounds it with religious or Church symbols and emblems according to one's ecclesiastical rank in Holy Orders, jurisdiction and dignity.
There is an at least 800-year-old tradition for Popes to have their own personal coat of arms, in addition to the symbols proper to the Apostolic See. Particularly during the Renaissance and the centuries that followed, it was customary to mark with the arms of the reigning Supreme Pontiff all his principal works. Indeed, Papal coats of arms appear on buildings and in various publications, decrees and documents.
Popes often used their family shield or composed their own with symbols indicating their ideal of life or referring to past events or experiences, or even elements connected with specific Pontifical programmes. At times, they even added a variant to a shield that they had adopted on becoming a Bishop.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, elected Pope and taking the name Benedict XVI, has chosen a coat of arms rich in symbolism and meaning that transmits to history his personality and Pontificate.
A coat of arms consists of a shield bearing several important symbols and surrounded by elements that indicate the person's dignity, rank, title, jurisdiction and more.
The shield chosen by Pope Benedict XVI is very simple: it is in the shape of a chalice, the most commonly used form in ecclesiastical heraldry.
The field of Pope Benedict XVI's shield, different from the composition on his shield as Cardinal, is now gules (red), chape or (gold). The principal field, in fact, is red.
In each of the upper corners there is a "chape" in gold. The "chape" [cape] is a symbol of religion. It indicates an idealism inspired by monastic or, more specifically, Benedictine spirituality. Various Orders and Congregations, such as the Carmelites and the Dominicans, have adopted in their arms the form of the "chape", although the latter only used it in an earlier form rather than their present one. Benedict XIII (1724-1730) of the Order of Preachers used the "Dominican chief" [heraldic term: upper part of the field] which is white divided by a black "chape".
Pope Benedict XVI's shield contains symbols he had already used in his arms when he was Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and subsequently as Cardinal. However, they are arranged differently in the new composition.
The principal field of the coat of arms is the central one which is red. At the point of honour of the shield is a large gold shell that has a triple symbolism.
Its first meaning is theological. It is intended to recall a legend attributed to St Augustine. Meeting a child on the beach who was trying to scoop up the sea into a hole in the sand, Augustine asked him what he was doing. The child explained his vain attempt and Augustine took it to refer to his own futile endeavour to encompass the infinity of God within the confines of the limited human mind.
The legend has an obvious spiritual symbolism; it is an invitation to know God, yet with the humility of inadequate human understanding, drawing from the inexhaustible source of theology.
The scallop shell, moreover, has been used for centuries to distinguish pilgrims. Benedict XVI wanted to keep this symbolism alive, treading in the footsteps of John Paul II, a great pilgrim to every corner of the world. The design of large shells that decorated the chasuble he wore at the solemn liturgy for the beginning of his Pontificate, Sunday, 24 April, was most evident.
The scallop is also an emblem that features in the coat of arms of the ancient Monastery of Schotten near Regensburg (Ratisbon) in Bavaria, to which Joseph Ratzinger feels spiritually closely bound.
In the part of the shield called "chape", there are also two symbols that come from the Bavarian tradition which Joseph Ratzinger introduced into his coat of arms when he became Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977.
In the dexter corner (to the left of the person looking at it) is a Moor's head in natural colour [caput Aethiopum] (brown) with red lips, crown and collar. This is the ancient emblem of the Diocese of Freising, founded in the eighth century, which became a Metropolitan Archdiocese with the name of München und Freising in 1818, subsequent to the Concordat between Pius VII and King Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria (5 June 1817).
The Moor's head is not rare in European heraldry. It still appears today in the arms of Sardinia and Corsica, as well as in the blazons of various noble families. Italian heraldry, however, usually depicts the Moor wearing a white band around his head instead of a crown, indicating a slave who has been freed; whereas in German heraldry the Moor is shown wearing a crown. The Moor's head is common in the Bavarian tradition and is known as the caput Ethiopicum or the Moor of Freising.
A brown bear, in natural colour, is portrayed in the sinister (left) corner of the shield, with a pack-saddle on its back. An ancient tradition tells that the first Bishop of Freising, St Corbinian (born c. 680 in Châtres, France; died 8 September 730), set out for Rome on horseback. While riding through a forest he was attacked by a bear that tore his horse to pieces. Corbinian not only managed to tame the animal but also to make it carry his baggage to Rome. This explains why the bear is shown carrying a pack. An easy interpretation: the bear tamed by God's grace is the Bishop of Freising himself; the pack saddle is the burden of his Episcopate.
The shield of the Papal coat of arms can therefore be described ("blazoned") in heraldic terms as follows: "Gules, chape in or, with the scallop shell of the second; the dexter chape with a moor's head in natural colour, crowned and collared of the first, the sinister chape a bear trippant in natural colour, carrying a pack gules belted sable".
The shield carries the symbols connected to the person who displays it, to his ideals, traditions, programmes of life and the principles that inspire and guide him. The various symbols of rank, dignity and jurisdiction of the individual appear instead around the shield.
It has been a venerable tradition for the Supreme Pontiff to surround his armorial shield with crossed keys, one gold and the other silver, in the form of a St Andrew's cross: these have been variously interpreted as symbols of spiritual and temporal power. They appear behind the shield or above it, and are quite prominent.
Matthew's Gospel recounts that Christ said to Peter: "I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Mt 16: 19). The keys are therefore the typical symbol of the power that Christ gave to St Peter and his Successors. Thus, it is only right that they appear in every Papal coat of arms.
In secular heraldry there is always some form of headpiece above the shield, usually a crown. In ecclesiastical heraldry it is also common for a headpiece to be shown, but obviously of an ecclesiastical kind.
The Supreme Pontiff's arms have featured a "tiara" since ancient times. At the beginning this was a sort of closed "tocque". In 1130 a crown was added, symbol of the Church's sovereignty over the States.
Boniface VIII, in 1301, added a second crown, at the time of the confrontation with Philip the Fair, King of France, to show that his spiritual authority was superior to any civic authority.
It was Benedict XII in 1342 who added a third crown to symbolize the Pope's moral authority over all secular monarchs, and reaffirmed the possession of Avignon.
With time, although it lost its temporal meaning, the silver tiara with three gold crowns came to represent the three powers of the Supreme Pontiff: Sacred Orders, Jurisdiction and Magisterium.
In past centuries, Popes wore the tiara at solemn official celebrations and especially on the day of the "coronation" at the beginning of their Pontificate. Paul VI used for this purpose a precious tiara which the Archdiocese of Milan had presented to him, just as it had given one to Pius XI; but afterwards, Paul VI donated it to a charity and introduced the current use of a simple "mitre", although these mitres were sometimes embellished with ornaments or gems. But he left the "tiara" and the crossed keys as the emblem of the Apostolic See.
Today, the ceremony that begins a Pontificate is no longer called a "coronation". The Pope's full jurisdiction begins the moment he accepts his election by the Cardinals in the Conclave and not with coronation as for secular monarchs. This ceremony, therefore, is simply called the solemn inauguration of his Petrine Ministry, as it was for Benedict XVI on 24 April.
The Holy Father Benedict XVI decided not to include the tiara in his official personal coat of arms. He replaced it with a simple mitre which is not, therefore, surmounted by a small globe and cross as was the tiara.
The Papal mitre shown in his arms, to recall the symbolism of the tiara, is silver and bears three bands of gold (the three powers: Orders, Jurisdiction and Magisterium), joined at the centre to show their unity in the same person.
On the other hand, there is also a completely new symbol in the arms of Pope Benedict XVI: the "pallium". It is not part of the tradition, at least in recent years, for the Supreme Pontiffs to include it in their arms.
Yet the pallium is the typical liturgical insignia of the Supreme Pontiff and frequently appears in ancient portrayals of Popes. It stands for the Pope's responsibility as Pastor of the flock entrusted to him by Christ.
In early centuries the Popes used a real lambskin draped over their shoulders. This was later replaced by a stole of white wool woven with the pure wool of lambs reared specially for the purpose. It was decorated with several crosses that were generally black in the early centuries, or occasionally red. Already by the fourth century the pallium had become a liturgical symbol proper to and characteristic of the Pope.
The Pope's conferral of the pallium upon Metropolitan Archbishops began in the sixth century. Their obligation to postulate the pallium after their appointment is attested as far back as the ninth century.
In the famous long iconographic series of medallions in St Paul's Basilica that portrays all the Popes of history (the earliest portrayals are idealized), many Supreme Pontiffs are shown wearing the pallium, especially those between the fifth and 14th centuries.
The pallium is therefore not only the symbol of Papal jurisdiction, but also the explicit and brotherly sign of sharing this jurisdiction with the Metropolitan Archbishops, and through them, with their suffragan Bishops. It is thus the visible sign of collegiality and subsidiarity.
In heraldry in general, both civic and ecclesiastical (particularly for lower ranks), it is customary to place a ribbon or cartouche below the shield, bearing a motto or a heraldic device. It expresses in a few words an ideal or a programme of life.
In his Episcopal arms, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had chosen the motto "Cooperatores Veritatis". This remains his aspiration or personal programme but does not appear in his Papal arms, in accordance with the tradition common to the Supreme Pontiffs' arms in recent centuries.
We all remember that John Paul II would often quote his motto, "Totus Tuus", although it did not feature in his Papal arms. The absence of a motto in the Pope's arms implies openness without exclusion to all ideals that may derive from faith, hope and charity.
Mons. Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, Apostolic Nuncio"
Roberto Santos Correia Silva, 18 July 2005

Note: About the Moor's Head, see also: Freising County (Oberbayern District, Bavaria, Germany)

Coat of Arms as Cardinal Ratzinger

image from <>

The coat of arms of the new Pope, Benedict the XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany) at <>. The Pope's Bio at <>.
Zachary Harden, 19 April 2005

No, this is coat of arms only of cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (see also image at the web-site of Guy Selvester on <>). New Pope HH Benedict XVI  will have other coat of arms, but, certainly, with the same shield, and with other external ornaments.
Mikhail Revnivtsev, 19 April 2005

I did recognize the cardinal hat on the top of the coat of arms and doubted it was/will be exactly the coat of arms of Benedict XVI.
David Kendall, 20 April 2005

The arms of cardinal Ratzinger was designed and drawn by Claus D. Bleisteiner, a heraldist from Gauting (near Munich) and president of the local heraldical club "Wappenlöwe". The Süddeutsche Zeitung had an article yesterday (thus before the election) (19 Apr 2005, p. 39) on Bleisteiner, mentioning his heraldic work for cardinal Ratzinger and three other cardinals (Joachim Meisner, Karl Lehmann, Friedrich Wetter). The content of the shield of Ratzinger's arms are explained by Bleisteiner as follows: - the moor-heads (obviously) for the archbishopric Munich-Freising, where Ratzinger was archbishop 1977-82 - the bear from the Freising town arms - the shell as personal symbol, meaning "every believer is a shell in the sea of god"; the shell refers to a legend of Augustinus, about whom Ratzinger had written his doctoral thesis.
Marcus Schmöger, 20 April 2005

His arms as archbishop/cardinal incorporate the bear with pack on its back from the arms of the city of Freising, the ancient bishopric that is now the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, as well as the city where young Joseph Ratzinger was educated and ordained.  The bear is the symbol of St. Corbinian, patron and refounder of the Freising episcopal see (8th century). Cardinal Ratzinger explained it as symbolizing carrying the burdens of the Lord.
Joe McMillan, 21 April 2005

The Tapestry

image by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 25 November 2005

Here is the tapestry usually hung during Pope Benedict XVI's speeches.
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 25 November 2005

Most strange, as it uses not the finnally accepted arms of the pope, but one of the many projects aired when it was found necessary to change Ratzinger's cardinal arms upon his coronation.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 27 November 2005