Before you start thinking of all the things that might be changing at the Vatican these days, let me give you fair warning.

This post is about a garden, but it’s not just any old garden. It’s the botanical arrangement between the back of St. Peter’s Basilica and the building that houses the government offices for the Vatican City State. Most people don’t get the chance to see it, but this area contained the papal coat of arms of Benedict XVI until today.

The garden that depicted Benedict XVI seal. Credit: Stephen Driscoll. Copyright CNA 2013.

The garden that depicted Benedict XVI’s coat of arms. Credit: Stephen Driscoll. Copyright CNA 2013.

Gardeners went to work removing the shrubs and plants as they prepare for arrival of whoever the cardinals choose as Pope. So the Moor’s head, the brown bear and the golden shell of Benedict are gone now and they will soon be replaced by a new papal coat of arms.


Elsewhere in the Vatican, workers are preparing the Sistine Chapel for the conclave of cardinals that will elect a new Pope.

The two stoves — one that burns the ballots and another that produces the smoke — have been unpackaged and are being set up, protective matting for the floor has been laid down, a platform for the cardinals is being built and the chimney for the smoke is being installed.