The Pope’s great miter for the Urbi et Orbi blessing

The Pope had a spiffy miter for his Christmas Urbi et Orbi blessing.

Where did it come from?

There is a clue!

Look at the papal stemma.

This is the coat of arms of Papa Luciani, John Paul I, the pope everyone forgets to remember.




 And just to show there is a hermeneutic of continuity even for the Pope’s miters, here is one made for Benedict!

From Midnight Mass:

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Matthew says:


    Merry Christmas! I saw the blessing at

    Is that the blessing the Popes have always used at the Urbi et Orbi message?

  2. Matthew Mattingly says:

    I often wonder what the Church would have been like if Pope John Paul I had lived….perhaps for a reign of 15 years like Paul VI, and Karol Woytyla was never elected John Paul II, but rather ended his days in 2005 as the former Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow?
    I read on several sites, and in a few Catholic magazines and newspapers, that Papa Luciani would have surprised people by his conservatism. Many speculate that the Tridentine Latin Mass would have been back years ago had John Paul I lived. He was averse to too much ecumenism, so after reading about his views, I doubt that the horrendous “Assisi” gatherings, or the appologizing for errors and faults in the Church would ever have occured…..and it goes without saying that there would not have been “altar girls”.
    The Sedia would have been in constant use (even though Papa Luciani didn’t like being the center of attention), but He wasn’t the liturgical expert as Papa Ratzinger is. Still, Piero Marini would never have gotten his hand onto the liturgy with Pope John Paul I.
    I read once that one of Pope John Paul I’s goals was to supress the Jesuits outright, and to order a return to “order” of the other religious Orders and congregations of pirests and nuns which today, 30 years later due to the rampant dissent and liberalism they espoused are close to extinction.
    Only God knows what Pope Luciain would have been like, but from what I’ve read, He would have been a good 75% more conservative with regards to liturgy, disipline etc. than John Paul II……and of course there would have been next to no travels. Aside from his heart problems, Pope John Paul I did not like to fly.

  3. Ack! Sorry. I messed up my html.
    here is a picture of him wearing it.

  4. RH says:

    John Paul I conservative? Where did you get that one? He was well known to be slightly progressive.

  5. Larry says:

    If you note he is weraing a cope of Blessed John XXIII. In some photos the Papal coat of arms is visible on Pope Benedict’s right.
    Beautiful vestments to honor the KING on HIS birthday!

  6. Habemus Papam says:

    Pope John Paul I was the last to use the Sedia Gestatoria, so maybe a clue here?

  7. Ad Orientem says:

    I could be wrong, but I think that was the miter used by Paul VI and John Paul I during the latter’s brief reign. If it ever saw the light of day during JP II’s pontificate I do not recall it.

    Christ is Born!

  8. RH says:

    John Paul I used the Sedia ONLY because he was told people could not see him if he didn’t use it. I’m sure he hated using it; he was a very humble and shy man.

  9. Cristhian says:

    one of the greatest things in JPI sohrt pontificate was that giant mitre.

  10. EDG says:

    There’s a difference between “slightly progressive” and “cool with the destruction of the Faith.”

    I remember that when JPI was elected, there was a lot of talk that he was going to undo some of the more egregious changes of VatII, particularly in the liturgy. But only a few weeks later, he was dead.

    That said, I don’t think we should really worry too much about this. I will discreetly say that I wish JPII had done many other things that what he actually did, but on the other hand, there are people who regard him as a saint, so who knows. We just have to thank God for BXVI and pray for him, support him and move forward.

  11. Emilio says:

    Fr, I think he must have been reading your blog and followed the link to the ecclesiastical hat site. Looking for miters, he scrolled quickly by his blue and yellow thing and eventually came to the picture of JPI wearing that miter and said “That’s the one!”

  12. Doug says:


    I couldn’t have put it better myself. A truly humble prelate is one who allows the office to take precedence. His own personal predilections become secondary. I agree that His Holiness John Paul I would have probably allowed the office to which he had been elected to persist with tradition in tact.

    It was (and I apologize and seek forgiveness for this statement) in all likelihood an unintentional hubris on the part of His Holiness John Paul II that he felt he could slice away the work of centuries – for indeed the Church does it’s best work in time frames marked in centuries – for the sake of his own personal aesthetic leanings.

    Happy Christmas!

  13. Ole Doc Farmer says:

    A little-discussed (but interesting) anecdote:

    Cardinal Luciani was meeting with his seminarians one day c. 1976-1977. After discussing several points of theology with the seminarians, Cardinal Luciani said, “My sons, where have you learned all these heresies?”

    He also was a great admirer of St. Josemaria. My sense of John Paul I is that he was elected pope, saw the wretched state of the Church, and died of a broken heart. His health was not good and I don’t think he was strong enough for the task at hand.

  14. Ed says:

    I am heartened to see the Holy Father wearing the mitre of John Paul I; I pray that he have our victim pope as his powerful intercessor in heaven. John Paul I, had he lived, intended to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary according to her instructions and was a true son of predilection of the Most Holy Virgin. See chapter 9 of _John Paul I: The Pope of the Secret_ .

  15. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    The triple tiara on the stemma of John Paul I…

    Not a bad emphasis on Christ’s fatherly governance in being Prophet, Priest and King.

    In his short pontificate, he has a wonderful address to the College of Cardinals in which he mentions the suggestions (suggerimenti) of the Cardinals as, well, mere suggestions. He also speaks of governance of the Lord as paternity (paternità). Quoting Augustine, he demands that the local churches not cut themselves off « ex ipsa magna arbore quae ramorum suorum porrectione toto orbe diffunditur ». He speaks of the program for his pontificate only by way of the Cardinal’s own promise to serve « usque ad sanguinis effusionem ». See:

    John Paul II, at the very end of his life, criticized himself about his lack of governance, which, as repentance, is a point in his favor, even if there are those in abundance who shun repentance as self-serving hypocrisy. This confession alone makes him Great.

    Benedict XVI, well, he is the Pope of continuity whose “Marshall Plan”, as Fr Z calls it, is still unfolding.

  16. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    All these good things are pre-Marini I.


    Instead of anyone inordinately pushing discontinuity between pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II, for which two periods we can find true continuity…

    …how about, instead, encouraging an irreversible discontinuity between Marini I and Marini II, with Marini II providing, in a correct way, continuity for what is pre- and post-Vatican II?

    Just what WDTPRS does.

  17. Paul Haley says:

    This is only a surmise of mine but let’s suppose for an instant that Our Lord foresaw the “I am church” phenomenon coming into play in the 20th century and decided to allow the succession of events which occurred in the post Vatican II era and, to our great dismay, the lack of faith being evident in the so-called Catholic world. In a sense He was saying: “They will be left to their own devices for awhile until they, themselves, get sick of it and come back to Me for My Assistance!”

    Let’s suppose that He left us to ourselves for our own sins and, after having quite enough of our machinations and modernistic impulses, decided to allow the election of Pope Benedict XVI knowing full well that he would begin the restoration to the true Catholic faith and bring about a reconciliation in Tradition for all Catholics who seek sincerely to love and serve their Triune God.

    I choose to believe this is the case and I encourage all Catholics who are devoted to Tradition to come together in unity of Faith to support our Holy Father in his endeavors. Let us not shoot ourselves in the foot!

  18. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    I am disturbed by all the criticism of Pope John Paul II. How can one fail to mention his role in the decline and fall of the Soviet Union, the upswell of Marian devotion that developed during his pontificate, the great personal affection in which so many millions hold his memory? He was the pope of Fatima, and of the third secret.

    I understand and applaud the focus on traditional liturgy of this website. That was not a strength of our late Holy Father, it was not his focus. But while he allowed some unworthy liturgies to go forward, he kept the future Pope Benedict by his side as a counselor. One papacy led directly to the other.

  19. Fr. D. says:

    John Paul I’s own words concerning the Liturgy from his homily of 23 September 1978:

    Vorrei pure che Roma desse il buon esempio in fatto di Liturgia celebrata piamente e senza « creatività » stonate. Taluni abusi in materia liturgica hanno potuto favorire, per reazione, atteggiamenti che hanno portato a prese di posizione in se stesse insostenibili e in contrasto col Vangelo. Nel fare appello, con affetto e con speranza, al senso di responsabilità di ognuno di fronte a Dio e alla Chiesa, vorrei poter assicurare che ogni irregolarità liturgica sarà diligentemente evitata.

    As bishop and cardinal Luciani, he always stood for Tradition.
    (check out )
    He did, however, make the Catholic distinction between Tradition and traditions.
    He was a “strict constructionist” in his reading of the documents of Vatican II. He once confessed to being against the decree on religious liberty, but changed his mind because he did not think that the Holy Spirit would allow so many bishops in an Ecumenical Council united to the pope to fall into error.

    In regard to Liturgy, it seems he would have promoted the Novus Ordo, but done strictly according to the rubrics. As bishop, he always defended the pope’s authority and seems to have believed the pope had authority to modify certain ceremonies of the Mass.

  20. giovanni says:

    I am quite sure if you gathered all the post-war pontiffs in a room somewhere, there would be much more harmony than many would like to suppose. Each brings a slightly different ‘weltanschaung’ no doubt, and each is constrained by the realities of the times. Personally, I am sure the late pontiff will be raised to the glories of the altar before long, perhaps even by the present one. In the mean time, I think the suggestion to pray for HH Benedict XVI, and move forward, is an excellent one.
    Oh yes, the mitre DOES look spiffy.

  21. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    It might be good to remember something about Benedict that may be pertinent to his appreciation of the triple tiara.

    His usage of the mitre, even in his stemma, could be an act of repentance for what he once thought about the triple munus (as Cardinal Ratzinger, decades ago), namely, that any layman can be a pope and refuse to be ordained as the bishop of Rome.

    In insisting on the mitre, a universal symbol of the episcopacy, he is stating that the triple munus is contingent upon being bishop

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