Pope chooses silver ring, pallium style in keeping with predecessor

VATICAN CITY - With his fisherman's ring and the pallium - the main symbols of the Petrine office - Pope Francis chose styles in continuity with two of his predecessors.

The fisherman's ring Pope Francis chose is made of gold-plated silver and is based on the same design of a papal ring handed down from Pope Paul VI's personal secretary. It shows an image of St. Peter holding the two keys - one key represents the power in heaven and the other indicates the spiritual authority of the papacy on earth.

The ring, which represents the pope's role as a "fisher of men," was designed by a late-Italian artist, Enrico Manfrini, who was very close to Pope Paul and his late-secretary, Archbishop Pasquale Macchi.

Pope Francis had about three models of rings to choose from, said the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, and the pope chose the design that Manfrini gave Archbishop Macchi for Pope Paul. Pope Francis' ring was made from the same wax cast of the ring meant for Pope Paul, who never wore it, Father Lombardi said.

During the installation Mass March 19, Pope Francis received the newly made ring from the dean of the College of Cardinals, Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

The pallium Pope Francis received from French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran during the Mass was the same one Pope Benedict XVI used - a short woolen band that the retired pope re-introduced in 2008, and similar to the kind worn by Blessed John Paul II. It is worn over the shoulder and has a 12-inch long strip hanging down the front and the back.

The pallium is a woolen stole that signifies the pope's or the archbishop's authority over the Christian community. It also represents the shepherd's mission of placing the lost, sick or weak sheep on his shoulders.

The pallium the pope wears is decorated with six red crosses symbolizing the wounds inflicted on Christ during the passion, Father Lombardi said. He said the crosses on palliums for metropolitan archbishops are black to make clear the diversity of jurisdiction.

The end piece, like all palliums, is made of black silk, a symbol of the black sheep that the shepherd rescues and carries over his shoulder back to the flock.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970