WDTPRS POLL: attacks on the Pope and the sedia gestatoria

We all know that Pope Benedict would not want to be completely surrounded by bullet proof glass everywhere he went.

On the other hand, security around our Popes has been relatively light.

The use of the sedia gestatoria would both help people to see the Pope and also protect him from the sort of attack that took place on Christmas Eve in the Basilica.  You could put a line of Swiss Guards on either sides.  Frankly, I would prefer Recon Marines, but the Pope doesn’t have them available.

Some would argue that by raising the Pope higher he would be an easier target to shoot.   I think if someone wanted to shoot the Pope, he would shoot the Pope even if he wasn’t on the sedia gestatoria.

Some would argue that the sedia gestatoria sends the wrong message about what Catholics think about Popes.   I say we can answer those questions easily.  The knuckleheads who want to cling to the falsehoods about Catholics will cling to them no matter what we explain. 

I am sure there are other pros and cons.

Here is a WDTPRS POLL for you.  Please vote and then give your reasons in the combox.

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{democracy:39}

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81 Responses to WDTPRS POLL: attacks on the Pope and the sedia gestatoria

  1. KAS says:

    I think putting this practice back into play would certainly make it easier for everyone to see the Pope. But there still needs to be more security for him. perhaps higher barriers along the aisle? Certainly a more proactive guard would be in order.

  2. ThomasL says:

    I’m all for bringing back the sedia gestatoria, but I voted “no” because I’m not convinced bringing it back will make him safer.

  3. MenTaLguY says:

    I really really don’t think the sedia is a good idea. The failure mode (the chair getting tipped over or the Holy Father falling out of it), while unlikely, is much much worse than for walking, and the elevation makes the Holy Father a target. (Not necessarily snipers — think about things like thrown objects. For example, someone brings a heavy camera, lobs it at the Pope’s head in an attempt to knock him out of the chair…)

    The real advantage of the sedia that keeps being brought up is surrounding the Pope with more people. Why can’t we just do that without introducing the chair with its associated risks?

  4. Marius2k4 says:

    Yes: It would both protect him from physical harm while elevating him symbolically above all the other bishops who so wantonly deny his authority. In a world where we have tossed our kings aside for the rule of a virulently atheistic mob, the Church ought to provide a refuge from the Way of the Proletariat and display that invigorating grandeur that man has tossed into the garbage of memory.

    Let the Vicar of Christ resume his rightful role as regent of the Orbis Terrarum, don the Tiara, the episcopal gauntlets and the mantum, and bend the Church back to the Will of God!

    I would like to say that I was being melodramatic, but I’m afraid I cannot. One of my favorite pontiffs was Innocent III, which I suppose says a lot about me.

  5. William says:

    A ‘yes’ vote here! The Holy Father is in quite good shape for his age; but he is, after all, an 82 year-old man (though much his junior, I could not, however, keep up with him). The gestatoria would give some respite and add to his stamina.

    And while we’re at it, let’s bring back the flabellum, those big, beautiful ostrich plume fans — just for ambiance.

  6. I think it helps everyone see the Pope, helps the Holy Father at his age reserve his legs. It’s only being used indoors, so I don’t think anyone’s going to shoot the Holy Father with the metal detectors and such.

  7. asperges says:

    Popes used to say that the the sedia gestatoria was horribly sick-making; perhaps a vehicular version (wheels, raisable platform) might fit the bill and would avoid both the unpleasant motion and the somewhat “colonial” sight of his being carried by servants.

    No reason not to reintroduce the ostrich plumes, and, whilst we’re at it, the triple crown, which should never have been done away with.

  8. Ralph says:

    I voted yes, but with some reservations.

    1. I do worry about the false message some may take from it. Some may see the Pope as a king to “lord it over them” Mark 10:42, when in fact the very office is one of sacrafice.

    2. I realize that our Holy Father is getting on in years and the sedia would be helpful to his energy. But, there is something to be said about seeing an elderly man walking under his own power, even if it’s markedly slower, that speaks to the dignity and beauty of the aged. I think that JPII did great good in this area from his public witness of the value of the elderly and disabled.

    The above reservations understood, I can’t stand the thought of the Pope falling, be it from assault or accident. So for that reason I voted yes.

  9. I am in favor of bringing back the sedia for safety reasons; but even if there were no safety considerations, I’d still want it back. We need to also bring back the tiara and all the other regalia, insignia, ceremonies and rituals that have been done away with. It was a serious mistake to get rid of all that. True humility consists in humbling oneself. Humbling anything other than oneself — such as one’s office — is false humility. It is also detrimental to the authority of which cast-off accessories and rituals are a symbol.

  10. I do worry about the false message some may take from it. Some may see the Pope as a king to “lord it over them” Mark 10:42, when in fact the very office is one of sacrafice.

    Actually, it is the abolition of the sedia and the tiara and other similar things that has sent a false message: that there is nothing special about either the Pope or his authority. We see evidence all over the world that this message has been received.

  11. Joan M says:

    I voted no, simply from a security point of view. I do not believe it would help at all with security. I don’t think it was designed for that. Personally, I would not sit on one and allow myself to be carried, I don’t care how many strong men are handling it!

    I’ve been in a funeral procession where the coffin was carried about 200 yards by 8 strong men. It was necessary for changes of carrier at least every 50 yards. You should have heard the huffing and puffing from those strong men!

    No. No sedia. Let’s beef up the security and keep His Holiness walking, however slowly, when it is not possible for him to ride in the popemobile.

  12. MrsHall says:

    “…it is the abolition of the sedia and the tiara and other similar things that has sent a false message: that there is nothing special about either the Pope or his authority.”

    This is a good point. I don’t think the sedia would enhance security, however. Just my $0.02.
    :)

  13. carl b says:

    Yes. My reasons: 1) As a security measure to protect the Pope from such attacks 2) So more persons can see him 3) To give him rest 4) It’s a cool, very Catholic, traditional thing to do.

  14. David says:

    I too am all for the sedia in principle, but I voted “no” because I am concerned about safety. Watching the video of this attack, it’s clear that the guard had his arm on the assailant before she reached the Pope, but her momentum nonetheless carried her forward and into the Holy Father. And this was a woman–an athletic and agile woman, but still much less massive than a large man. So, stopping people once they are moving is hard. Remember there would be perhaps only 1-2 feet between the proposed line of Swiss Guards and the bearers. An assailant could easily knock two of the Guards into a few of the bearers, causing the sedia to tumble. The possibility for injury would be much worse with a fall from the sedia. So, unless someone can suggest an effective barrier for keeping people away from the bearers, I am afraid I must oppose it. But I would gladly welcome such suggestions.

  15. mparrot says:

    I am all for bringing it back, but mostly so that the Pope would be easier to see.

    Also it looks cool.

  16. scaron says:

    I voted “no” – it just seems such an exposed position. It seems to me that there should be better options to protect the Holy Father on the ground than is now being done. Plus, he so obviously loves greeting and blessing children – which I think would be very difficult while riding in a sedia.

  17. pelerin says:

    I voted no as I think the Pope would be much more of a target on a sedia. And if even one of the bearers was targetted instead it would be disastrous for his safety. One knocked out would unbalance the lot.

    I wonder if a smaller version of the bullet proof popemobile would not be the answer with the Pope raised but in safety until he reached the sanctuary?

  18. Sedgwick says:

    Any return of tradition will enhance respect for and obedience to the Pope.

  19. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    Odd how this subject produces such wacky responses, both here and on NLM. Why would whether we (Joan M) want to be carried be relevant? this is not about us.

    Some facts:

    there is no evidence of the Sedia being unstable. The bearers are young and athletic, and are protected from the sides by lines of others men in procession ( whoever they may turn out to be in the future)

    The “elevated ” position is a complete red-herring. the outside audiences uqe the open jeep, not the closed “popemobile”. at all these times the Holy Father is an “elevated target”, if you choose to see him thus.

    At no time in history ash the number of pole in Sr Pters been so mlimited. This talk fo reducing numberds ans widenting alisels (whatver good that may do) is nonsnesce. Unitl recently tehre was nos aadeting,; and the aisles wezre literalal apclkegd; a

  20. TNCath says:

    I like the sedia very much, but I still voted “no.” I don’t think it would make that much a difference as far as security is concerned, and I am not so sure the Holy Father would really want it. However, I would be in favor of it if and when the Pope becomes too infirm to walk the length of St. Peter’s. I’m more in favor of making the aisles wider and having a better security plan in place.

  21. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    Odd how this subject produces such wacky responses, both here and on NLM. Why would whether we (Joan M) want to be carried be relevant? this is not about us.

    Some facts:

    There is no evidence of the Sedia being unstable. The bearers are young and athletic, and are protected from the sides by lines of others men in procession (whoever they may turn out to be in the future)

    The “elevated ” position is a complete red-herring. the outside audiences use the open jeep, not the closed “popemobile”. at all these times the Holy Father is an “elevated target”, if you choose to see him thus.

    At no time in history has the number of people in St Peter’s been so limited. This talk of reducing numbers and widening aisles (whatever good that may do) is nonsense. Until recently there was no seating, and the nave was literally packed; and on certain occasions balconies were erected in the arcades. Even before the days of mass-tourism, there was ample opportunity for nutcases to gain access, this is no excuse for isolating the Pope in some security bubble.

    Let’s get re

  22. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    Odd how this subject produces such wacky responses, both here and on NLM. Why would whether we (Joan M) want to be carried be relevant? this is not about us.

    Some facts:

    There is no evidence of the Sedia being unstable. The bearers are young and athletic, and are protected from the sides by lines of others men in procession (whoever they may turn out to be in the future).

    The “elevated ” position is a complete red-herring. the outside audiences use the open jeep, not the closed “popemobile”. At all these times the Holy Father is an “elevated target”, if you choose to see him thus.

    At no time in history has the number of people in St Peter’s been so limited. This talk of reducing numbers and widening aisles (whatever good that may do) is nonsense. Until recently there was no seating, and the nave was literally packed; and on many occasions balconies were erected in the arcades. Even before the days of mass-tourism, there was ample opportunity for nutcases to gain access, this is no excuse for isolating the Pope in some security bubble.

    Let’s get real: this is one incident among many less well documented in the past. Pray for the Holy Father, and pray that good may come out of this, but do not treat him like some politician or celebrity.

  23. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    Frightfully sorry, please forgive posting from a foreign (to me) computer. I do not know how to delete the two erroneous drafts.

  24. StevenDunn says:

    I’m a conservative and reasonably traditional Catholic, but I don’t like the sedia or the triple crown in the least. I really believe they send the wrong message – the pope is NOT the king of the world, he is the patriarch of the West whose office has been uniquely granted the charism of infallibility. Jesus is the king of the world, and the Church maintains the truth over the centuries in the face of the opposition of Satan for the salvation and healing of the world.

    By romantically maintaining the excessive customs that seem to have developed around the papacy we do nothing but continue to elevate him in a way that is contrary to the nature of his post and the nature of the Church. The pope putting down the triple crown was one of the best things to come out of the reforms. The pope is not a king (excepting the secular powers once exercised over the papal states, of course), and there are barely any kings left on the Earth. These customs have been drained of what meaning they once conveyed through the passing of time.

    We have to maintain our traditions, but also be willing and able to avoid romanticize them and recognize when change is necessary. Bringing the sedia and triple crown back would be mistaken regressions.

  25. Theodorus says:

    Sedia Gestatoria had been used by the Roman Pontiffs for centuries. It dignifies the Petrine office and also makes it easier for the faithful to see the Holy Father. Bl. Pius IX, St. Pius X, Ven. Pius XII, Bl. John XXIII all used it. Even Paul VI and John Paul I who respectively abolished many traditional customs and abandoned Papal Tiara used it too. That Ven. John Paul II alone refused to use it does not make sedia gestatoria unusable anymore.

    Quike frankly, it has become a common and serious problem that Catholics think too much about how non-Catholics think about Catholicism, and they try to wash down Catholic identity and teaching in order to please others. We honor and love the Vicar of Christ on earth, and we should not be ashamed of it.

    If today’s people feel uncomfortable to see this kind of pomp and honor given to a venerable person, I am quite curious about how they would react when they see in heaven how God is worshiped, adored, and praised. Are they going to protest after seeing Jesus not as a poor carpentor but the Glorious King of the Ages?

  26. Thomas in MD says:

    Only if the bring back the tiara too. I think it is a good idea for security and for keeping the pope from wearing out during the major feast days.

  27. TNCath says:

    StevenDunn: Pope Benedict XVI has actually removed the title “Patriarch of the West” from his official title.

  28. Emilio III says:

    I voted yes, but changed my mind. It should be brought back, but that has nothing to do with security. I believe that at that point in the ceremony the Pope would have been walking anyway.

    I don’t worry about a false message, since even Democrats are generally teachable. He would be carried in as befits the Vicar of Christ, then walks at the end of the procession as befits the Servant of the Servants of God. Even Nancy Pelosi should be capable of understanding that.

  29. I am in favor of the sedia gestatoria, but primarily because it engenders respect for the Holy Father.

    Actually, I think that slightly higher barricades would be a more effective means of protecting the Holy Father than the sedia gestatoria, if security is the sole consideration.

  30. Thomas S says:

    I voted no. And that’s from someone who wants the return of the Sedia Gestatoria.

    Bring it back in its own right, not for speculation about the Pope’s security.

  31. MarieSiobhanGallagher says:

    Yes, for protection and ceremony.

  32. Janine says:

    I voted no, but that is because I worry that it would make the Pope more visible and open for attack. If in certain circumstances, i.e. inside a building where he could be kept safe, then yes, that would be fine. But I wonder why was only one guard near the Pope? I think a few more men would be wise at this point, and more prayers for the Pope’s safety.

  33. …I don’t like the sedia or the triple crown in the least. I really believe they send the wrong message – the pope is NOT the king of the world, he is the patriarch of the West whose office has been uniquely granted the charism of infallibility. Jesus is the king of the world, and the Church maintains the truth over the centuries in the face of the opposition of Satan for the salvation and healing of the world.

    The trouble with this is that the “wrong message” that you decry went undetected for centuries. Then, suddenly, in the latter half of the blood-soaked, materialistic and atheistic 20th century, we had an epiphanic moment: we discovered that it was wrong for the Pope to have any trappings of authority, lest he come across as arrogant or intimidating in a world half-dominated by Soviet Russia.

    By romantically maintaining the excessive customs that seem to have developed around the papacy we do nothing but continue to elevate him in a way that is contrary to the nature of his post and the nature of the Church. The pope putting down the triple crown was one of the best things to come out of the reforms. The pope is not a king (excepting the secular powers once exercised over the papal states, of course), and there are barely any kings left on the Earth. These customs have been drained of what meaning they once conveyed through the passing of time.

    The number of kings in the world is irrelevant (and anyway, there are probably more around than you think); and the Pope is still a temporal ruler (Vatican City is a sovereign state; the capital importance of the Pope’s retention of temporal power was recognized by those who negotiated the Lateran Treaty with Italy). But aside from all that, so far from sounding Catholic, I tell you quite honestly, these comments have a definite Protestant savor to them. We elevate the Pope because Jesus Christ elevated him first, in the person of St. Peter. When we honor the Pope, we are really honoring Jesus Christ, Whose Vicar on Earth the Pope is, and Who gave the Pope his authority; when we dishonor the Pope, we dishonor the One he represents. Christ is humble, and His Vicar on Earth may be humble; but it is not for us to humble either of them. The customs that we have rashly thrown away have not been drained of their meaning, as the negative results of their absence prove.

    By the way, if the idea behind laying down the tiara was to do away with ostentation, then even this was a miserable failure. Take a good look at a picture of Pope Paul VI laying down the tiara. The thing he is wearing on his head is a lot bigger and more ostentatious (though admittedly far more attractive) than the thing he is getting rid of.

  34. marthawrites says:

    I voted no: I would rather see more guards along the aisle as the pope processes toward the altar. There is something irreplaceable about seeing the Holy Father at eye level, catching his warm smile and his loving eyes washing over his flock as he prepares to offer Holy Mass in all our names. That can’t happen if he is elevated.

  35. Mrs. O says:

    I chose “no” because if he fell that could be very horrible.

  36. FrPhillips says:

    I’d really like to see the return of the sedia gestatoria. During my days as a protestant, I remember being very impressed by the sight of the Pope being carried on it. Yes, it looked exotic, but to me that was a plus! It helped me realize that my own minister was a pretty ordinary man doing a pretty ordinary job, and I can remember thinking, “Those Catholics know how to do things right!”

    And just one question, because I’d really be interested in knowing — is there any recorded instance of the Pope tumbling out of the sedia gestatoria because it was dropped? I think that’s a pretty thin excuse for being against its use, unless this has been a problem in the past. I’m sure if it had ever happened, we’d know about it.

  37. Kimberly says:

    Yes, I love tradition. I don’t understand the security part. The Pope is very elevated when he is saying mass and probably a target at that time – should we wall him up in glass at that point also? Sad to say, but if someone wanted to HURT the Pope I don’t think being in the chair or out will make a difference.

  38. StevenDunn says:

    TNCath: I read the Pope Benedict removed the title “Patriarch of the West” not so much because of the “patriarch” part of the title, but the “west” part. Roman Catholicism is no longer Western. It’s also not accurate to call him “Patriarch of the Roman Catholics” since certain Eastern Catholics are still under his patriarchal authority. I also read he thought it was a confusing title for Roman Catholics, as we have no developed idea of patriarchies as they do in the Eastern Churches. I disagree with his decision, but understand it. But removing the title doesn’t make him any less of a patriarch, even if the Western idea of the patriarch is poorly-developed relative to the East.

    Anita Moore OPL: I never said the Pope shouldn’t have the trappings of authority, rather I said I opposed THOSE TWO PARTICULAR trappings of authority. And that opposition has nothing to do with the “blood-soaked, materialistic and atheistic 20th century” as you theatrically put it. It has everything to do, however, with the reconsideration of those parts of Western tradition which finally ended in the 20th century. This is a serious cultural change that we have to deal with, in the same way the Church transitioned from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. It will happen, and God will guide it into success. Acting like it isn’t happening and romanticizing the past doesn’t get us anywhere. Then again, neither does butchering the Mass and the Office and teaching open heresy as is currently popular. The world has changed rapidly and profoundly over the last century. The world of Leo XIII and Pius X is gone.

    Instead of bringing back the sedia and the crown, we need to consider ways to express the pope’s authority and unique office that are relevant, yet not faddish. I have no answers. As I said, this is a serious matter that will require much effort for many generations. Our problem is not that we’ve abandoned certain traditions, but that we’ve done it rashly and without due consideration. I, for one, have no interest in living in the Middle Ages, but I have no interest in living in a watered-down semi-secular Church, either. I can give glory to God and praise the pope without needing him to act like a king.

  39. Joe Gallaher says:

    I voted yes.I can see a sedia with wheels that would elevate His Holiness and still be safe.I also see the need for more security.I really like Fr.Z’s preference for Recon Marines.My son,who used to serve Mass for Fr Z,is a Recon Marine.Maybe when the Marines are done with him he can protect the Holy Father.

  40. kolbe1019 says:

    I agree with Fr. Z. If they wanted to shoot him they would shoot him. If the sedia gestatoria had been in use the previous bodily attacks on the Pope would not have occurred. If there is anything we need more of it is pomp and ceremony! We have something to really be excited about! We should act like it…. and if the Pope is carried around on a fancy chair because of the great blessing he is… logic might set in and people might begin to wonder how much more reverence and honor is due to the Blessed Sacrament.

    For those who are saying people will throw large objects like cameras at the Pope… it hasn’t happened yet… If your really worried… the Swiss Gaurds can be trained to use their spears to knock things out of the air… or the vatican can hire really strong “little” people like in the wizard of OZ to carry the Pope so that he is not so High in the air, he is still protected, he still saves his strength… or maybe he can just stay in a padded room with no windows and he can communicate via webcam…. (Forgive me Father for many things especially my lack of patience.)

  41. ghp95134 says:

    Yes! Bring back the Sedia Gestatoria, but (seriously!) have it modified with (1) shock absorbers in case of any “unplanned rapid descent;” (2) bullet-proof acrylic shields; and (3) a seat belt. No need for a “Click it or Ticket” sticker on the front panel! Two rows of guards could absorb a large person lunging at the Sedia porters.

    CHALLENGE: Perhaps our entrepid Vincenzo — blog photoshop meister and champion of wit — could devise a photoshopped Sedia per my design recommendations.

    –Guy Power

  42. Mike says:

    Yes. For reasons of safety–let’s surround with security, a very able group of men–and for reasons of dignity. Enough with the false egalitarian ethos that has banished beauty and left the temple a bare, ruined choir where only the empty-headed birds sing…

  43. tzard says:

    I voted “yes”. Because the Pope is elderly and we need to protect our elders. Honor your father, even if he is our “Holy Father”!. Elevating him is also a sign of honor.

    bulletproof glass is a bad symbol – hence I would not be in favor of a popemobile. But what about an open popemobile? Still carried, of course, because this is greener than a motor (lol).

    Why not also carry some of the older prelates also in procession with the Pope? On lower chairs, of course.

    Love makes you do some things that the materialistic world would not understand, but you do them anyway.

  44. jlmorrell says:

    Yes! The sedia gestatoria needs to be brought back, but I don’t think one should argue for it based on safety reasons. As Fr. Z mentioned, there are both pros and cons regarding safety.

    Basically, it should be brought back both because it makes the Pope more visible to the faithful who have come to see him, and because it sends a message to Catholics and the world regarding the importance of the Vicar of Christ.

    Now, there’s no doubt that many people would freak out because the sedia is an affront to their false sense of egalitarianism, but it’s about time we stop bowing to the world’s value system anyway.

  45. trespinos says:

    I voted “no”. For needed additional security, add another file of bodyguards on each side of the Pontiff. No chair is necessary.

    As long as the Pontiff is physically able to process that distance, no chair is necessary or desirable (it’s an imperial style that’s completely passe). When and if his ambulation becomes restricted, arrange to have him ride in a wheeled chair–something more dignified than the contraption that Pope John Paul II was moved on. If it is true that there have been pontifical testimonials that the sedia’s movement induced symptoms of motion sickness, that makes it even more inadvisable to consider subjecting an elderly man to it.

  46. doublenan says:

    I voted no to the return of the sedia. I don’t have an alternative to offer, altho I did like the scaled-down version of the Popemobile and extra guards along either side of the aisle. As a spectator at St. Peter’s, watching the Holy Father process past you is absolutely awe-inspiring; nearly brought me to my knees.

  47. Agnes says:

    I voted no – I don’t think it will help much. I also like the dimension of the Holy Father as the “servant of the servants of God” and therefore walking among the people (somewhat). And as the Pontiff of Christian Unity, he can’t seem completely inaccessible. Save the throne and the crown for his entrance into the Heavenly Kingdom. And let’s put that off for a few more years – I like this Papa! It’s easier to relate to him as Papa on the ground.

  48. Agnes says:

    Added: Just hire a few more bouncers!

  49. jvicente says:

    I voted no on the sedia gestatoria as I don’t really think it would enhance security. But there does seem to be a lot of ignorance about the tiara in these comments. The tiara is not a “triple crown”, nor is it a crown of any kind. In fact, it is a form of liturgical headdress unique to the Pope but similar in construction and material to the crown – like “miters” worn by eastern bishops. There is nothing wrong with the tiara I think it should be restored, but perhaps in a less ornamented form to assuage the feelings of our more puritanical Catholics.

    John Vicente

  50. I voted yes…

    People will be able to see the Pope better, and He will be better protected…

    I say we put bullet-proof windows around the sedia gestatoria…

    And perhaps the Vatican security can be carrying it while they have Swiss guards surrounding them, holding shields or something… that would be interesting.

  51. StevenDunn says:

    jvicente: I read in ‘The Eastern Orthodox Church’ by Fr. Fortescue that the Eastern ‘mitre’ comes directly from the crown of the Byzantine emperor.

    I’m genuinely confused about your comment. How is the tiara substantially different from a triple crown? If I’m wrong I’d like to learn the facts. My understanding is that the papal tiara is an earlier, simpler headpiece that was progressively adorned with crowns throughout the Middle Ages and early Modern era.

  52. Geoffrey says:

    I voted “no”.

    Even before the recent incident at “Midnight” Mass, I have felt that the return of the sedia gestatoria is a bad idea for security reasons. Just imagine that was being used this Christmas Eve. The sedia gestatoria could have toppled, causing harm to the Holy Father and those around him.

    It wouldn’t take much for one of the sediari pontifici (handlers) to lose their grip during a commotion taking place around them, dropping the sedia gestatoria, and the guards flanking the procession would be no match for a sniper.

    As much as I personally love tradition, the sedia gestatoria should not return. It just isn’t safe. I’d hate to see tradition outweigh the safety of the Vicar of Christ.

  53. JimGB says:

    I voted yes. I think that the sedia with an appropriate security force surrounding it would be wise. It would have prevented the deranged woman (who appears to be making this an annual event) from reaching the Pope and knocking him down. The Pope was lucky in that he was not injured, but he is in his ’80s and a fall like that could harm him seriously.

    To those who would decry the return of the sedia as a return to the “regal” papal past, it should be noted that JPI used the sedia, and that was a mere 30 years ago (post Vatican II), compared with its use for hundreds of years prior to that. Besides, what is the functional difference between the sedia and the throne on wheels that JPII used in the latter days of his pontificate when age and illness prevented him from processing on foot?

    Now, bringing back the flabella would be different. But it would be fun to have them used just once to see Rev. McBrien’s head explode!

  54. Geremia says:

    The sedia just begs for pope worshiping, i.e., idolatry! It is good for that Pope Benedict has remained humble.

  55. Father Bartoloma says:

    I would say:
    Inside: sedia gestatoria inside with flanking guards and security. Make the argument that it is for security and also, alla the reasons Paul VI and JP I kept it, so that the pope can be seen. Do not bring back the flabellae (sp?) and that can be a concession towards those who would argue that it is too much to carry the pope. However, there can be a “hermeneutic of continuity loophole” if the flabellae simply slipped into disuse as the sedia did by the preference of JP2.

    Outside: Popemobile continue as is. The pope as a target would be a factor outside much more than in.

  56. Joshua08 says:

    StevenDunn, for what it is worth, the pope is still a temporal sovereign. Not that his position as monarch of the Vatican City State would be definitive for wearing the tiara

    To Geremia. It can be an act of arrogance for a bishop to dress a pauper, and an act of humility for him to wear magnificent robes. Humility in part means submitting to one’s own state and office and the things that come with that. The sedia has nothing to do with pride, and I am sure that many popes were humbled to use it in that, showing an inclination not to be preferred they nevertheless bowed to such preferment. Prelate after all means one who is borne before the rest. The question is not one of humility, and not even necessarily one of whether such a gesture would be understood in today’s society, but more whether it would signify something that has been diminished or lost even against modern inclinations against it.

    John Paul II said it was a mistake to think the tiara was representative of temporal power. He gave the intepretation of it symbolizing Christ as King, Priest and Prophet

  57. Mitchell NY says:

    Please pardon having to read this again as I have written about my ideas and support on many entries about the Sedia and different blogs. If it sounds repetative please skip it. I think due to the events that DID happen and not only what could, the Sedia should be returned. It has been debated for sometime and signs now seem to be an invisible force pushing Rome in making that decision. I think that if someone were to pass Vatican security with a weapon and wishes to take a shot at the Holy Father, they will do it whether on the Sedia or not. In fact they would probably wait until he was stationary on the elevated Altar, rather than an elevated, MOVING Sedia. The sway would make it difficult to pinpoint. And even flanking Flabelli could be a deterent. Also the extra security( I have seen photos of about 8 to 12 Noble Guard in the past, could be revived for this sole purpose) would help stabilize the base and make it more difficult for someone to get to any of the carriers. Perhaps that is why it never happened before, even though clearly the world is more brazen today. I doubt it could be tipped with many carriers as it is not a pyramid turned upside down on its’ apex. Even taking out a man, the load would be distributed onto the two flanking members, which I am sure the carriers know about and are prepared for in any event. I do not think these men will flinch easily, they are trained for this or at least now must be. They must be given more respect for their training and skills. It will not be Mary and Joe Catholic carrying the Sedia. It has been used for hundreds of years. Use of the Sedia would also allow for more people to see the Holy Father, which has always been a principal point with the processions anyway. The pushing, climbing on chairs and shoving has only increased with the years now that everyone has cell phones and wishes to capture “their” moment with the Pope. Surrounding him with more guards or encircling him while continuing with the walking processions will only obscure him further which defeats the purpose of accessability. Then he need not do these processions at all and save the whole process of safety. The lens of continuity that the Holy Father often talks about needs to be looked through him with a different perspective now. Continued use of the Sedia, as it was never abrogated, through the lens of safety. Maybe not the ultimate safety, which will never be achieved unless he is encased (and even then we must consider the bomb threat), but preventing the tackling episode we saw once attempted and now achieved. Not to mention that the Holy Father should have his sole focus on the Liturgy and not looking over his shoulder. He msut be terribly shaken, who wouldn’t be. His age, the length of the aisle, weight of the vestments and also limited mobility and reflexive actions, and overall health should also be taken into consideration. In general would this not be easier for him? Add on the past discussions on its’ use in the continuity with tradition and I think it is a pretty good case. And as Catholics I think we should humbly submit to easing things for the Pope, even his decisions by showing our support for the Sedia in light of the many logical reasons above and others that I have not been wise enough to think of or have been mentioned in other posts.
    Please cc The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI with my thoughts.

  58. I voted “no”.

    I am not sure that bringing back the sg would accomplish much of anything, on it’s own. I confess that Paul VI’s decision to dissolve the Palatine Guard and dismiss most of the Papal Household remains to me…incomprehensible…but it is done – and Pope Benedict’s insistence that we need not roll back the clock, but recover the proper forward course (the one that is in continuity with the past) would not be served by, well, rolling back the clock.

    With precise regard to the specific question, I certainly can say that I do not think the sg ought to be brought back “in light of the recent attacks” if this formulation is suggesting that the recent attacks expose a secuirty concern (they do) which could be remedied or addressed effectively at least in part by the re-introduction of the sg (it would not).

    Best to all,
    C.

  59. ghp95134 says:

    Regarding the issue of the Sedia Gestoria “swaying” when borne by 12 men … probably not as much as imagined.

    I recall from my basic infantry training over 29 years ago that litter bearers were taught to walk out-of-step in order to reduce the swaying that makes the casualty uncomfortable. I suppose the Sedia Gestoria bearers probably figured out that technique donkey’s years ago.

    As I kinda-sorta recall, the lead bearers step out on the left foot & rear bearers step out on the right foot; or, that might have been left bearers=left foot & right bearers=right foot (I forgot). Still, I think the same portage principle would apply to any “man-portable, shoulder-carried, leg-powered transportation device.”

    –Guy Power

  60. JustDave says:

    I’d like to see it come back mostly because it would raise the pope up higher so more people could see him.

    For there to be any real security bonus I think guards would have to surround it on all sides. Perhaps if the sedia comes back the noble guard should too.

    As far as the pope falling from it by accident I guess I have one question: In all the years that it was used was a pope dropped or did it fall over?

  61. maskaggs says:

    I’d like to see the sedia make a comeback, but not particularly because of the recent events. I agree with those worried about the falling risk, but think the idea – that is, the proper idea – conveyed by the use of the sedia is part of our Catholic identity that could be recovered.

  62. ghp95134 says:

    JustDave asks … In all the years that it was used was a pope dropped or did it fall over?

    This site claims that John XXIII was dropped:

    (See comment #1682, just above 3rd photo in that comment)
    http://theratzingerforum.yuku.com/topic/510/t/Papal-clothing-and-liturgical-practices.html?page=85

  63. Oneros says:

    And the tiara would make a mighty good helmet!!!

  64. And the tiara would make a mighty good helmet

    Nazareno Padellaro, Portrait of Pius XII at 158: “Pius XII received the tiara as though it were a helmet, for Europe was in arms.”

  65. Oneros says:

    “I’m a conservative and reasonably traditional Catholic, but I don’t like the sedia or the triple crown in the least. I really believe they send the wrong message – the pope is NOT the king of the world, he is the patriarch of the West whose office has been uniquely granted the charism of infallibility. Jesus is the king of the world, and the Church maintains the truth over the centuries in the face of the opposition of Satan for the salvation and healing of the world.”

    But that’s not the message they should send. That’s not the point, and a little education could clear that up.

    The Pope is the image of Christ on Earth. The Pope is the Visible Head of the Church, because Her ultimate Head is currently INvisible on Earth in human form, so the Pope acts as the visible stand-in.

    The Pope is the Visible Head of the Church. Crowning him is thus putting a crown on the Head of the Church Herself. Like crowning a Marian Icon or Statue, in some ways.

    Crowning the Pope is Crowning Ecclesia, because he is Her Visible Head. That there are few monarchs in the world makes it all the more important that we do this, or else things like the Coronation of Our Lady become less symbolically accessible to the people.

    It’s not about the Pope himself at all, nor even the Papacy really. The whole point of coronations is not to glorify the monarch. The monarch as an individual man dissolves beneath the crown, which is placed on the Head of the Nation, not an individual man. Men, remember, are HUMBLED, humiliated even, when something is placed on their head, for a man “with his head covered, disgraceth his head”. The coronation of the Pope represents his own reason being disgraced, and the wisdom of the Church totally subsuming him.

  66. jvicente says:

    StevenDunn:

    I don’t mean to get into an argument with anyone nor do I wish to go off on an annoying tangent, but here goes: Both the Papal tiara & the eastern ‘mitre’ probably evolved from the ‘camelaucum’ worn by dignitaries (not the emperor) of the Imperial court of Byzantium. So what? Other items of ecclesial vesture also have similar origins, like the stole and the dalmatic. Should we do away with these things also?

    The article on the tiara in the Catholic Encyclopedia suggests that the western form of the mitre, used by bishops and some other prelates, developed from the tiara and that a ‘circlet’ may have been added to the tiara in order to distinguish them from each other.
    In any case, it is true that over the centuries the tiara did come to be adorned with three circlets or diadems. It also came to be viewed chiefly as a symbol of the Pope’s temporal authority. The Catholic Encyclopedia also states the tiara is a, “… non-liturgical ornament, which, therefore, is only worn for non-liturgical ceremonies, ceremonial procession to church and back, ceremonial papal processions… and at solemn acts of jurisdiction, as, for example, solemn dogmatic decisions”. I dunno, sounds pretty ‘liturgical’ to me. I still insist that the tiara is essentially liturgical and should be used that way.

    I’m not sure it is correct to say the western mitre evolved from the tiara, but nobody seems eager to abolish the mitre. In recent years the design of bishop’s mitres have tended to be shorter and less ornamental, some modern designs are quite tasteful (others just awful).

    I say the same thing could be done for the tiara, a simple dignified design used in solemn papal ceremonies symbolizing the unique attributes of the Pope’s position and authority in the Church.

    Why should anyone object to that?

    John Vicente

  67. smeej says:

    Don’t bring back the sedia. Bring back the vergers! :o)

  68. Does anyone see the symbolism of one lay woman knocking down the Pope, breaking the leg of a cardinal, and causing such a disruption? It is so sad. Replace the woman with Nancy Pelosi. Get my point? The Church has no idea how to deal with practical things. Swiss Guards? The Gendarmerie? Laughable.
    The Pope could have been stabbed or shot and no one could have protected him.
    I see in this the modern Church. Pray as prayer is the only answer.

  69. gio says:

    I voted yes. I think I was among the first to point out on online catholic blogs’ comboxes that the sedia is used to be flanked by lines of Noble and Swiss Guardsmen. We should think about the revival of the Noble Guard but with additional qualifications such as having passed basic military training and age limit (yes we don’t want to fill Gemelli’s geriatric ward). They can provide extra line of protection of the Pope from attacks such as the one that happened. Additional Gendarmerie and a revived Palatine Guard can keep watch from behind the barrier on the aisle side facing the people watching for any suspicious looking persons. Additional guards lining the aisle will serve as a deterrent for would-be trouble makers, more like the concept of police presence in law enforcement. Fears of the Pope being shot inside the basilica can be solved by beefing-up security in the entrances with guards at the metal detectors, they should be more strict though. They should not hesitate to frisk anybody who fail the detectors.

  70. paterpetri says:

    I voted yes, although not necessarily for reasons of security. I say bring back all of the papal regalia that had been put away under the pretense of humility. In the eyes of the world, the sedia, the papal tiara, and the like, look only like so much trimuphalist pomp and circumstance; but I rather see them as symbolic of Our Lord’s words to Peter that antoher “would gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldst not.”

  71. pforrester says:

    I voted no b/c the SG sends the wrong message. True this could be explained. True those who want to detest the Catholic Church will. But many innocents will receive the wrong message and never hear the correction. I am a Protestant convert. I love all things Catholic and all things traditional but just am not drawn to the return of the Sedia Gestoria.

  72. Oleksander says:

    no vote, sadly the Papal States no longer exists the pope is no longer monarch even of Rome let alone Italy, so the SG is no longer needed, and like pforrester says it just sends the wrong message in the 21st century

  73. ssoldie says:

    I am a yes, I wonder why using the S.G. was ever (abolished)?I am also wondering what pforrester and Oleksander mean by ‘wrong message’?

  74. John 6:54 says:

    Can you imagine if he had been on the sedia gestatoria and that lady jumped the fence and took out 2 or 3 guys carrying it. The Pope would have still fell, and he may not have been able to get up from that fall. Leave the sedia gestatoria in retirement.

  75. gio says:

    Oleksander said: “the pope is no longer monarch even of Rome let alone Italy”

    I beg to disagree! He is still the sovereign of Vatican City and de facto the last remaining absolute monarch in Europe. I wonder why many people don’t understand that. Even without Vatican City, the Pope is still sovereign.

    As to John 6:54′s concern that an attacker could take down the guys carrying the sedia: I would like to reiterate that the sedia is flanked by up 12 guards, 6 on each side when in procession. So before the attacker can reach any of the sediari carrying the sedia, he or she would have to deal with the guards first.

  76. asperges says:

    Gio’s comments (today) are most apposite. The Pope is a Monarch.

    From earlier (29th December): The pope is not a king … and there are barely any kings left on the Earth.. In Europe alone, there are: “the Principality of Andorra (technically a semi-elective diarchy), the Kingdom of Belgium, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Principality of Monaco, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Norway, the Kingdom of Spain, the Kingdom of Sweden, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the State of the Vatican City.” (Wikipedia – Monarchies in Europe). In fact there are some 44 monarchies in the world (at least).

    There is a republican outlook, particularly outside Europe, which baulks at such anachronisms, however monarchy is far from dead. I do not intend this as a political statement, merely an observation.

    This same mentality also shrinks from traditional ritual and symbolism. Indeed court manners (the very word “courtesy”) and its splendour and the grandeur of the (old) liturgy are intimately intertwined in history and manner and have been for centuries. There is a place for this still rather than the prosaic, dull and mundane stuff we have been stuck with for the last 40 years.

    One does not have to pretend we are all stuck in the middle ages: there is room for updating and simplification, but having reduced everything to nothing, there is room now for tradition and preservation, which is not just empty repetition, but the embodiment of continuity. That cannot be said of much of what goes on now – and look at the results.

  77. Someone asked if any Pope was ever dropped.

    I once knew an old fellow in Rome who had been one of the team who carried the sedia gestatoria.

    He told me about the time they dropped John XXIII.

    As you know, Pope John was a big guy.

    They were all horrified, of course.

    And has they helped the huge old man wallow his way to his feet again, the Pope exclaimed:

    “Sorry about that, guys!  I had a big lunch today!”



  78. markomalley says:

    If they want to bring back the Sedia for some reason other than security, so be it.

    I don’t see that it would have any impact on security, except, perhaps, to degrade it.

    If they want to take security seriously, they will need to erect walls around Vatican City and have a single checkpoint with metal detectors, x-rays, and explosive detectors. They will need to erect a shield of bulletproof glass around the window of the papal apartments, around the stage of the Paul VI amphitheater, and around the sanctuaries in St. Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel, as well as the major basilicas in the city. Or better yet, just keep the Holy Father completely under wraps and do a holographic projection of him celebrating the liturgies, making speeches, and any other public appearances he may need to make.

    Of course, they would also need to erect anti-aircraft guns around the Vatican, too, to protect from an airborne threat.

    Naturally, any security consultant would tell you that the best thing would be to transport him to some undisclosed underground bunker and keep him there. No contact with the public is the best way to protect him. Perhaps the old salt mines at Hallein, Bavaria, would work.

    But then there’s the insider threat.

    OTOH, he could just trust God to keep him safe as long as God wants him around.

  79. edwardo3 says:

    Just a question, why are we so worried about what non-Catholics think about our customs and traditions? They are ours, they are our heritage and identity; and we have a right to our own heritage and identity.

  80. puma19 says:

    I had not seen this entry till just now and wanted to comment that the centre aisle of the Basilica has been widened since the attack.
    At the vespers for New Year’s Eve the central aisle was considerably wider than for Christmas eve mass at which the pope was attacked.
    This is a very obvious change to the basilica and has been done no doubt to allow more room for the Pope and others to walk down to the main altar.
    But perhaps to make more room for any crazy person wanting to attack the pope – now more area to cover.
    A sensible move really and should have been done before as aisle was too tight.
    But the security needs to be more observant and alert so the pope can never ever be pushed to the floor as on the 24th night – terrible oversight for those around the pontiff.
    Also feel sorry for the French cardinal who was left in the lurch somewhat by all the fenzy and his broken hip. Could have been worse, God forbid.

  81. jlmorrell says:

    I must say I’m surprised by all the no votes on this blog. In my opinion, the SG says much more about how Catholics view the papacy than thousands of written pages.

    As with all of these things: liturgical vestments, tiara, art, architecture, and the rest; much of the call to abandon our traditions and identity seem to stem from a false humility.