More on the new tapestry with the tiara on the papal coat-of-arms

The other day I and others posted about the change made to the tapestry that is hung from the window of the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace when the Holy Father  leads the Angelus on Sundays and feasts.

The tapestry displays the papal coat-of-arms.

The new tapestry  had a version of the coat-of-arms showing the traditional papal tiara rather than a miter.

There is a story now about this from CNS which includes an disappointing conclusion:

VATICAN CITY — A gift can be appreciated and used even when it’s not perfect. [What a catty thing to write.] That seems to be what happened last Sunday when a different papal coat of arms appeared on a tapestry hung from the window of Pope Benedict XVI’s apartment.

A closeup of the tapestry used Sunday, featuring the tiara. (CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)

The Catholic blogosphere has been abuzz since Sunday with images, questions and opinions about the tapestry because it featured a crown or tiara topping the crest, rather than the miter Pope Benedict chose — apparently very intentionally — when he was elected in 2005.

“The pope’s coat of arms has not changed. It is what was explained at the beginning of his pontificate,” Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service this morning.

The 2005 explanation of the elements of the pope’s crest — including the decision to replace the traditional tiara with a bishop’s miter — is available  on the Vatican website:

The tapestry featuring the pope’s official coat of arms — with a miter. (CNS/Paul Haring)

“The Holy Father Benedict XVI decided not to include the tiara in his official personal coat of arms. He replaced it with a simple miter, which is not, therefore, surmounted by a small globe and cross as was the tiara. The papal miter 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.”

Father Lombardi said Sunday’s tapestry — the one with the tiara — was a gift, hung “without any intention of changing the crest.”

He also said, “If it is used again, it will be modified” to match the pope’s official coat of arms, featuring the miter.

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  1. Ed the Roman says:

    Pity. I like the tiara.

  2. Bornacatholic says:

    Veritasphobia or removing a brick?

    What a rapid response to what, apparently, is considered wrong-headed joy at the sight of the Traditional Tiara.

  3. Henry Edwards says:

    What’s that ad agency cliche? “Let’s hang it over the balcony and see whether anyone salutes it.” Was this a trial balloon that didn’t fly?

  4. Animadversor says:

    It is good to remember that Father Lombardi cannot always be relied on for utter exactness. So, let’s wait and see what does in fact happen over the next few years.

  5. Andy Milam says:

    In response to the article’s view on those of us in the blogosphere….

    Catholicism, the last acceptable predjudice.

    Sheesh. Excuse us for being excited about tradition. Notice the small t. Not so worried about what the liberal wonks think…I hope the Holy Father isn’t either, I think that we should take up the cry of “KEEP THE TIARA,” much like we’ve started the cry for (shamless pop) MYSTIC MONK COFFEE!

    Just a thought…

  6. irishgirl says:

    I like the tiara too! I hope that tapestry is shown again!

  7. Joseph says:

    This small episode encapsules for me this pontificat and for that matter the previous one more so as well.

  8. William says:

    This story comes to us from CNS, a.k.a., CatholicNonSense! Best take a “wait and see” approach. Animadverso, you might be on to something. I didn’t like the miter from day one and hope there will be great agitation for the tiara to remain.

  9. Ioannes Andreades says:

    What about the flag of the Holy See? Will the tiara be removed from that as well?

  10. Flambeaux says:

    How sad. I hope I live to see the restoration of a proud, assertive, confident Catholicism. I’m so weary of this cowardly, namby-pamby, anti-triumphalist attitude and the priests and prelates who encourage it.

  11. anna 6 says:

    When I heard that it was a gift…rather than commissioned by the pope himself, I thought that it was probably not an official change of the coat of arms. Benedict, who is always gracious, likes to use…even if only once, the gifts he receives…such as mitres and pectoral crosses, and who can forget the camuaro (aka santa hat) which he (thankfully…IMHO) only wore once. He probably figured that it wasn’t a big deal since the tiara is represented in the flag and the Vatican City coat of arms and the mitre in his coat of arms does have the suggestion of the three tiers.

    In any case, it is possible that he will discuss it in the upcoming Peter Seewald book, “Light of the World” (based on his interviews with the pope this summer at Castelgandolfo). In this Reuters blog Josie Cox spoke to Seewald about the book, but expresses frustration that she couldn’t get a better scoop…”When the most he will say about the revelations in his sure-fire bestseller is that it will reveal “the secret behind the famous episcopal miter”?
    We’ll see!

  12. Ligusticus says:

    “Lo stemma del Papa non è cambiato
    «Una tantum» il drappo usato domenica

    Gianni Cardinale

    ROMA. Lo stemma papale di Benedetto XVI non è cambiato.
    Lo confermano fonti autorevoli interpellate da Avvenire. Domenica scorsa dalla finestra papale del Palazzo apostolico era stato calato un nuovo drappo in cui era raffigurato uno stemma differente da quello ufficiale. La variazione maggiore riguardava il fatto che al posto della mitria, sopra allo scudo, c’era la tiara. Il che ha fatto subito scatenare, specialmente su internet, un ampio e articolato dibattito sui significati ecclesiologici e teologici di questa (supposta) innovazione. In realtà il drappo, un recente regalo al Papa, è stato sì utilizzato domenica, ma «una tantum». E non è previsto un riutilizzo per il semplice fatto che non c’è nessuna disposizione per il cambiamento dello stemma che Benedetto XVI ha adottato fin dall’inizio del pontificato.
    D’altronde, a pagina 4 dell’Osservatore Romano datato 13 ottobre, prima dell’incipit del testo in latino del motu proprio «Ubicumque et semper» («Dovunque e sempre») campeggiava ben visibile lo stemma ufficiale. Insomma, ribadiscono le autorevoli fonti interpellate da Avvenire: «Lo stemma rimane come è. Nihil innovetur!».

    © Copyright Avvenire, 14 ottobre 2010 ”

  13. Jason Keener says:

    What a shame. If the Holy Father wants to stress the continuity between the pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II era, I can’t understand why the tiara was removed from his coat of arms in the first place. The symbolism of the tiara has been around for centuries and has not harmed the papacy, as far as I can tell. Sometimes it seems like it’s one step forward, two steps back.

  14. Geoffrey says:

    As sad as it is to hear, it makes sense. The Holy Father knows what he is doing.

  15. ghp95134 says:

    …three bands of gold (the three powers: Orders, Jurisdiction and Magisterium), joined at the centre to show their unity in the same person…..

    So, in Chinese that ideogram — three horizontal bars joined at the center by a vertical bar — means “King” …
    It means ‘king’. The top is a line and the bottom is shi4 (see the related characters below). Shi4 represents a capable person and the line on the top stands for ‘above the person’, so is the meaning ‘king’. Another interesting explaination is the three horizontal lines represent heaven (the top line), land (the bottom line), and people (the middle line), respectively. The middle vertical line connects the three lines. Only the king has the power to govern heaven, land and people. …

    Perhaps if the blogosphere bandied the “KING” explanation around, the mitre would done away with and the Triregnum returned to its proper place? Perhaps by “finding” and disseminating the following [faked] news lede would help dislodge the mitre?

    [faked lede] “Xinhua News Alert: China will never trust the Catholic Church — OBVIOUS “secret” clue in Pope Benedict XVI’s Coat of Arms! Mitre has the not-so-cleverly disguised ideograph “KING” …. obviously the Catholic Church is proclaiming its ownership of China!….” [/faked]

    –Guy Power

  16. Jordanes says:

    Is it the tapestry showing the tiara that is not perfect, or rather the pope’s coat of arms? ;-)

  17. ipadre says:

    I wonder if he plans on wearing the tiara! That would surely give some agida. Maybe we should have a collection and offer one as a gift from WDTPS community.

  18. Legisperitus says:

    ipadre, that’s brilliant. If it’s given to him as a gift…

  19. Ed the Roman says:

    “obviously the Catholic Church is proclaiming its ownership of China!….”

    How unnecessary. I’m sure the church owns silver and nice napkins, too.

  20. mgalexander says:

    This is depressing news.

    GHP’s point about the Chinese ideogram is fascinating, and the accompanying idea is brilliant!

  21. Bornacatholic says:

    The Pope who opened the Second Vatican Council wore the Tiara; and the Pope who closed the Second Vatican Counci wore the Tiara before, dramatically, placing it on the Altar in St Peter’s after Mass and then, eventually, donating The Tiara to Cardinal Spellman; and another Pope, Pope John Paul 1st, refused to even wear the Tiara -and he died 33 days later.

    Jes sayin…

  22. teaguytom says:

    If you ask me, modifying the gift tapestry will come across as kind of rude. Why not hang the old one back up if your going to modifying this companies gift? Plus, the one that seems to be agitated in this issue is Fr Lombardi. If as some other posters have said in the first post on this, that most people wouldn’t notice or care, why is Fr. Lombardi so determined to make it clear this isn’t a new coat of arms and we will modify it if it’s used again. I can’t help but notice that the progressive camp has some sort of disdain for the globe and cross on top of the tiara. Every time it is mentioned that the Holy Father chose a miter, we have to make sure we tell the laity that there is no cross and globe on top of it. Why? Because it is symbolizing the universal authority of the Pontiff? Kings traditionally are pictured bearing a globe surmounted by a cross. I guess it’s too much for the progressives to see the pope wearing a monarchical symbol.

  23. Bornacatholic says:


    92. Finally, the Pontiff will be crowned by the Senior Cardinal Deacon,….

    Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on the first day of the month of October in the year 1975 the thirteenth of our Pontificate.

    There is nothing so permanent as the constant change we are expected to accept with alacrity

  24. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you for the heraldic link! I was wondering where to find a reliable account, but delaying from the anticipated arduousness my cyber-unhandiness would assure…

    Respecting one detail, am I Latinist enough to be right in thinking that neither form given is correct? Should it not be ‘Aethiopicum’?

    Next (lazy? weedling?) raft of questions, does anyone know a reliable account of how or why the caput Aethiopicum comes to be in the source quoted? Is it thanks to Acts 8:26-39? If so, how, exactly? Or is it one of the Three Kings? If so, why, exactly? Or (to phrase it generally) has it another specific source?

  25. Animadversor says:

    As I said, we must wait and see. Still we have to accept not only the possibility that the Pope might not have any intention of officially restoring the tiara to his arms, but also the possibility that he might have the intention of not doing so. If the latter is the case, perhaps it would be because he personally prefers the miter, perhaps because he prefers the tiara but thinks it wise to forgo it. When did he last wear the camauro? I cannot remember. Indeed, we have to accept that even a pope who, we think, shares very much our point of view, may not act as we should were we so many popes.
    And only partly related:

  26. Frank H says:

    Maybe WDTPRS should run a poll, which, when the tiara emerges victorious, could be sent to Fr. Lombardi, PrayTell, NCReporter, and all that gang!

  27. anna 6 says:

    Dear Animadversor is delightful!
    Surprised that they left out the beret and the baseball cap, though!

  28. moon1234 says:

    Sniff Sniff. I really like the tierra. It has such wonderful symbolism. The mitre just looks so plain, boring and common. This is the POPE. The vicar of Christ!

  29. ghp95134 says:

    The Triregnum/Mitre conundrum has been a constant source of irritation for heraldists since the change occurred. Please note the two examples below which STILL retain the triregnum:

    1. Papal Garden:
    2. Flag, Swiss Guards:

    “…One could argue that Benedict or his gardeners didn’t want to unnecessarily rip up the flower beds, or that departing from the existing Swiss Guard flag pattern would be too much work, but Benedict’s triple-banded mitre appeared in the border of complex, Renaissance-style tapestries displayed at recent beatifications, arguably more work to re-design and weave than a single planting bed or a new military banner that was going to be replaced anyway.….”

    [photo source:

    Hopefully Fr. Lombardi will not have the garden dug up!!!

    –Guy Power

  30. Leonius says:

    “He also said, “If it is used again, it will be modified” to match the pope’s official coat of arms, featuring the miter.”

    That’s pretty insulting to whoever gave it as a gift.

  31. Jason Keener says:


    I agree. The mitre does look plain and common and not very suitable for a bishop who is the Supreme Pontiff and the Vicar of Christ. Frankly, I’m afraid to even mention those titles for fear that they too might be eliminated for being too triumphalistic.

  32. RMT says:

    I agree with ipadre–maybe we should keep donating new tapestries to the Holy Father with a papal tiara on them until the tiara-clasts around the Holy Father get the message that we want our traditions back.

  33. Animadversor says:

    @ anna 6

    It was my pleasure—glad you liked it as well as I did.


  34. Jayna says:

    The way Fr. Lombardi put it makes it sound like they didn’t even know the tiara was on it.

    Or did they see this as the equivalent of wearing that awful sweater your grandmother gave you when you see her so she thinks you actually like it?

  35. tianzhujiao says:

    ghp95134: “So, in Chinese that ideogram — three horizontal bars joined at the center by a vertical bar — means “King” …”

    Interesting observation.

  36. irishgirl says:

    Aminadversor-I liked the ‘ratzinger hats’ link! Some of those hats were pretty funny!
    Thanks for making a gloomy, rainy Northeastern Friday a little brighter!
    Back on topic-bring back the tiara! Who cares what the ‘progressives’ say!

  37. Anchorite says:

    Let me remind you that it was Marini’s idea, not Ratzinger’s:
    3.7. Papal insignia
    Separate mention must be made of the proposal to reform papal insignia. Since Pope Paul VI renounced the tiara, the Bishop of Rome uses a mitre similar to that of other Bishops during liturgical celebrations. This expresses better the bond of communion and unity which exists between the Successor of Saint Peter and the College of Bishops. The pallium, on the contrary, has not changed with the liturgical reform; it has retained the shape adopted in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The Office intends to introduce a modification of the pallium which takes into consideration both its earliest forms and its mediaeval symbolism, in order to express more clearly the ecclesiological and christological significance of this insignia, which was of great importance in antiquity. For the ring of the Bishop of Rome, the traditional anulum piscatoris (‘ring of the fisherman’) will probably be reinstated, to be consigned with the pallium to the new Pope on the occasion of the solemn inauguration of his pastoral service. + PIERO MARINI Titular Archbishop of MartiranoMaster of Papal Liturgical Celebrations

  38. Oh, the tiara will be back permanently someday. In the words of a guy named Rick, “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon. And for the rest of your life.” Meanwhile, I’m not going to tell my grandmother how to suck eggs, or tell Pope B how to herd his rambunctious flock.

  39. Mitchell NY says:

    I just don’t see the continuity when at every opportunity the Tiara is renounced over and over again. Wouldn’t it be wise to just say nothing about it? When it is absent does Lombardi remark about its’ absence? I think it should be used, maybe not as frequently as before, but still used. Maybe the Easter Blessing and Christmas for example. I hope they move on to more important things than changing the gift that was given to them. I echo the poster who says it is rude and would like to add that it borders, for me, of contempt. At least by some I am sure it is so. Isn’t it enough for some that it is not worn? Must we all now go along with erasing its’ image everywhere it has not been in the past !

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