L'Osservatore Romano publishes new Papal coat of arms


The official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published today the new coat of arms of Pope Benedict XVI, which includes all of the elements in the episcopal coat of arms of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Archbishop of Munich and Freising and leaves out the traditional pontifical tiara, replacing it with a mitre.

The Holy Father also added his pallium to the coat of arms.

According to Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, an expert in heraldic insignia and the designer of the new coat of arms, “Benedict XVI has chosen a coat of arms rich in symbolism and meaning, in order to put his personality and papacy in the hands of history.”

Benedict XVI added to his coat of arms the pilgrim’s seashell, the symbol of the Way of Santiago.  The shell has various symbolic meanings, the principal of which is taken from a famous legend about St. Augustine and his encounter with a young boy on the beach who was using a shell to pour seawater into a hole.  It also refers to the emblem of the pilgrims who traveled along the Way of Santiago towards the Shrine of St. James in Spain.

The coat of arms also includes an image of the “Moor of Freising." The Moor’s head, facing left and crowned, appeared on the coat of arms of the old principality of Freising as early as 1316. 

On the top right of the coat of arms is a figure of the “Bear of Corbinian," which refers to the legend of Bishop Corbinian, who preached the Gospel to Bavaria and is considered the spiritual father of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.

According to tradition, when the bishop was traveling to Rome, a bear mauled his pack animal.  Bishop Corbinian forced the bear to carry his supplies on its back to Rome.  Once there, he let the bear go free.

The Pontiff’s coat of arms also includes two keys in the background, symbolizing the Petrine ministry of the popes.

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