Home   |  About Us   |  Contacts   |  Products    
 News Items
 Top Stories
 News Briefs
 Also Featuring
 Movie Reviews
 Sunday Scripture
 CNS Blog
 Links to Clients
 Major Events
 2008 papal visit
 World Youth Day
 John Paul II
 For Clients
 Client Login
 CNS Insider
 We're also on ...
 RSS Feeds
 Top Stories
 Movie Reviews
 CNS Blog
 For More Info

 If you would like
 more information
 about Catholic
 News Service,
 please contact
 CNS at one of
 the following:
 (202) 541-3250


 This material
 may not
 be published,
 rewritten or
 except by
 linking to
 a page on
 this site.

 CNS Story:

FISHERMAN RING Mar-7-2013 (330 words) With photo posted Feb. 21. xxxi

Ring of retired Pope Benedict no longer can be used as seal

The fisherman's ring -- the pope's signet -- is seen on the right hand of Pope Benedict XVI as he celebrates Mass in Havana, Cuba, last year. (CNS/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

By Carol Zimmermann
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Pope Benedict XVI officially stepped down from office Feb. 28, his wardrobe changed -- right down to the ring on his finger.

He simply stopped wearing the familiar red shoes and the traditional white cassock with a white cape on his shoulder. He also stopped wearing the fisherman's ring, one of the main symbols of the papal office, and went back to wearing an episcopal ring he wore as a cardinal.

But it was not enough to simply leave the papal ring behind.

According to the rules governing the interregnum and election of a pope, the College of Cardinals must "arrange for the destruction of the fisherman's ring and of the lead seal with which apostolic letters are dispatched."

On March 6, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters that this "destruction" had been completed, although he explained that the ring is not smashed or destroyed completely; rather, two deep cuts are made in its face so that it can no longer be used as a seal.

Retired Pope Benedict received the ring at his inauguration Mass along with his pallium, the woolen stole symbolizing a bishop's authority. Both were based on ancient designs.

The gold ring, similar to the old rings that popes used also as seals, was designed by the Rome Association of Goldsmiths. It had Pope Benedict's name etched on it and a scene of St. Peter casting out his net, symbolizing how popes are successors of the apostle Peter.

Many Catholics pay their respects to the pope by kneeling and kissing his ring.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that the earliest mention of the fisherman's ring worn by popes is in a letter to Pope Clement IV wrote in 1265 to his nephew, stating that popes were to seal their private letters with "the seal of the fisherman."

During the 15th century, the papal ring also was used to seal official papal documents known as briefs.


Copyright (c) 2013 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
CNS · 3211 Fourth St NE · Washington DC 20017 · 202.541.3250