Faldstool sighting

Our friends over at NLM have eagle eyes for details in the liturgical eye-candy photos they so often post.

They noticed, for example, that Pope Benedict’s stemma, or coat-of-arms, is to be seen on the faldstool used on 31 December during 1st Vespers of Mary, Mother on God, followed by Benediction.

You can see Papa‘s coat-of-arms on the left, and Bl. Pope John XXIII’s stemma on the cope.

NLM also made the observation that the faldstool is back.

We are all pleased.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    “Faldstool,” that’s my word of the day! How very neat! Never know what one may pick on on your blog, Fr!

  2. Brian Day says:

    Can the fanon be far behind? After that, the Papal Court!

  3. Jason says:

    How do people know all this obscure Papal vestment knowledge. Is there some secret initiation class I missed out on when I came into the Church? :P

  4. Jayna says:

    I think eagle eyes is an understatement, Father. I understand seeing the one on the cope, but I’d never have been able to spot Benedict’s coat of arms on the faldstool. Seeing all these pictures makes me wish I hadn’t missed it on EWTN! Here’s hoping for a late night repeat.

  5. Brian Day says:


    Interest in papal vesture is an acquired taste. But to use your “secret initiation class” example, this is more like upper-division level classes.

  6. variously curious says:

    Is it proper for a pope to wear another pope’s coat of arms?

  7. Fr. Guy says:

    The faldstool was never gone. I have seen several photos of it used during the pontificate of John Paul II. It was, however, recently restored for its current use. BUT, it was also vandalized. When this faldstool was made for Leo XIII the coat of arms wasn’t painted onto that little oval cartouche with the elaborate frame. Rather, the cartouche contained the shield of the coat of arms and the whole cartouche was surmounted by gilded tiara and keys. These have been recently removed! I don’t understand this. One the red chair the Pope uses when presiding at mass they recently changed the finials to contain his coat of arms and left the tiara and keys alone. Why, then, was it necessary to destroy part of this faldstool. The liturgical restorations are nice but the vandalism continues.

  8. variously: Is it proper for a pope to wear another pope’s coat of arms?

    Apparently it is! o{]:¬)

    It’s a version of recycling… very green… saving the planet, and all that.

  9. Fr. Guy says:

    Compare the faldstool now with how it originally looked:


  10. Mitch says:

    Happy to see it back and hope it never gets put in the closet again….I hope future Pontificates maintain and pass on all the elements of the past that are so sorely missed..Something like passing down Grandma’s China…Simply wonderful news..

  11. Emilio III says:

    Fr. Guy, there’s a typo in your URL (the server does not exist according to their nameservers):

    % dnsq a image511.imageshack.us ns7.imageshack.us
    1 image511.imageshack.us:
    84 bytes, 1+0+1+0 records, response, authoritative, nxdomain
    query: 1 image511.imageshack.us
    authority: imageshack.us 1800 SOA ns.imageshack.us root.imageshack.us 1231016582 120 7200 3600000 86400

  12. Am I the only one to notice the Papal Tiara on BXVI’s coat of arms?! I zoomed, and it seems quite clear that it is the tiara.

  13. Hugo: I am pretty sure that is the miter version, not the tiara.

  14. After a careful comparison, I think I agree with you, Father. :)

  15. joy says:

    Now, that’s a FINE example of recycling!

  16. Felipe says:

    Well, I think I understand why thye took off the little tiara in the faldstol. I do not agree, but think:

    The Holy Father coat of arms does not have the tiara on it. And Leo XIII did have. So, earlier in the little blue thing only the coat of arms would go, and the tiara would complete it. Now thye had two options, or take out the tiara and construct a miter there, or do what they have done. But in my opinion, that would be a great oportunity to start the use of the tiara on the coat of arms…anyway a great and wonderful improvement!

  17. Maureen says:

    It looks to me as though they took off the whole piece of wood that backs the medallion — old arms medallion, tiara, folderol and all. (Probably put it into the museum to keep nice.) It would have been a whole lot easier and neater to manufacture either a modified replica of the whole faldstool or of just that one little part, than to saw off the tiara and replace one medallion with another.

  18. Fr. Guy says:

    It would have been better simply to paint what is on the shield of Benedict’s coat of arms on the cartouche and leave it at that. Period.

  19. athanasius says:

    This is a wonderful development and uplifting after all the depressing stuff I’ve been reading about lately.

    Perhaps we should organize a petition asking the Holy Father to resume the use of the Tiara, accompanied by Rosary and Mass Novenas for that purpose. After all, the ceremony and dress of the Church has its primary purpose in giving glory to God, but secondarily it is for the edification of the faithful to see God glorified. It was on this principle that Pope Alexander VI ordered Cardinal Ximenes to wear all the Episcopal Regalia and sleep in a bed rather than wear his franciscan habit and sleep on a board.

  20. fra paolo says:

    I would like to think that Cardinal Ximenes’ monastic simplicity and doctrinal rectitude did more to edify the faithful in the glory of God than any amount of Borgia worldliness.

  21. GandhianCatholic says:


    I have often wondered about starting a movement to have a tiara made for His Holiness, like the Hungarians did for John Paul II. Something tells me that Benedict XVI would be more inclined to eventually use it than John Paul II, though, probably not by much.

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