Pope Francis’ Ring And Pallium

The pallium is a sign of office in the Latin Church worn by the pope and by metropolitan archbishops. It is a white woolen band formed into a circle which lies over the shoulders, with bands extending down the front and the back. There are several crosses embroidered on it, and it is tipped in black silk.

Pope Benedict XVI's pallium was distinct from that of metropolitan archbishops: the crosses were the color red. He used two different forms: his first was a larger version, based on the more ancient form, which draped over the right shoulder. This is the one he eventually left as a symbolic gesture on the tomb of Pope Celestine V in L'Aquila after visiting the site of the earthquakes there. Later he had a modified version that was narrower and had bands extending from the center rather than the right shoulder, which is presumably the one that will be used by Pope Francis.

The pallium is a sign of jurisdiction, so the pope always wears the pallium wherever he goes. Metropolitan archbishops only wear theirs within their territory and only as long as they hold the office of metropolitan archbishop (i.e., they do not wear it after retirement).

The pallium is a sign of office in the Latin Church worn by the pope and by metropolitan archbishops
The pallium is a reminder of the ministry of the Good Shepherd, who carries the sheep over his shoulder. The pallium is reminiscent of the feedbag that the shepherd carried to feed the sheep. On Tuesday it will be conferred upon the Holy Father by the Protodeacon of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Jean–Louis Tauran, the same cardinal who announced the election of Pope Francis from the loggia last Wednesday.

At the time of his episcopal ordination, a bishop is presented with a ring as a "symbol of the bishop's fidelity to and nuptial bond with the Church, his spouse, and he is to wear it always." (Ceremonial of Bishops, no. 58). The Fisherman's Ring is the ring worn by the pope. It is a gold ring with an image of St. Peter, called to be "a fisher of men," casting his nets. Above the image is inscribed the pope's chosen name. The ring is a sign of his authority; in the past the ring was used to create the wax seal for papal decrees. For this reason, the ring is destroyed upon the death or resignation of the pope. The Fisherman's Ring will be presented to the Holy Father by the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

The ring Pope Francis will wear bears the image of St. Peter with the keys and was designed by Enrico Manfrini. The Vatican reports that Archbishop Pasquale Macchi, (d. 2006) former personal secretary of Pope Paul VI, kept the wax cast of a ring made for Paul VI by the artist Manfrini, who had made several medals and other artistic objects for Paul VI.  The ring was never cast into metal, and Paul VI always wore another ring that was commissioned at the time of the Second Vatican Council.  Archbishop Macchi left the cast, along with other objects, to Monsignor Ettore Malnati, who worked closely with him for many years.  Monsignor Malnati made a ring of gold-plated silver from the wax cast.  This was offered to Pope Francis, along with several other possible rings, by the Papal Master of Ceremonies, through the auspices of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, retired Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops. 

It was this ring that Pope Francis chose to be the ring of the Fisherman, which will be presented to him at the Mass of Inauguration of his Petrine Ministry on March 19, 2013.

Content courtesy of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and used with permission. Original content.