What do you think of Pope Benedict’s new Coat of Arms?

Now this is some great papist fodder – this Sunday a new papal coat of arms was revealed!

Or, more precisely, an updated version of the pope’s original coat of arms was unfurled.

Here’s the new version:

By comparison, here is Pope Bendict’s “old” coat of arms:

It is unclear if this redesign represents the new “official” version of the pope’s coat of arms, or if this will be used in some functions and the previous design will still be used in others. Rome Reports has a nice video showing the new design in its first public use:

Fr. Selvester at Shouts in the Piazza, an international expert on ecclesiastical heraldry, has a great post on the change, and makes three basic observations that we can take from this move:

1. The Pope does not mind having his coat of arms depicted with the tiara

2. The inclusion of the pallium [in the coat of arms] not a fluke but an innovation

3. The Pope is showing that there is a such a thing as more than one depiction of the same person’s coat of arms rather than only one, so-called “official” version that must always and at all times be slavishly copied and used.

Fr.  Selvester also writes that it is a “good thing to see the papal coat of arms used in a manner that illustrates well that heraldry is a living art form, open to innovation and always evolving.”

As is true of so many of the pope’s decisions when it comes to the reintroduction of traditional objects, the new coat of arms represents a teaching opportunity that we can presume is pastorally motivated. Hopefully the Vatican will add more explanation about why the coat of arms has been changed. Certainly this decision falls in line with the pope’s well-known affinity for preserving the best of our Catholic traditions.

For a fairly exhaustive history of the papal tiara, see WordIQ.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this news – what do you think of the new coat of arms? Do you like them more or less than his original coat of arms, and why?



  • Pingback: Tweets that mention What do you think of Pope Benedict’s new Coat of Arms? | CatholicVote.org -- Topsy.com

  • bam

    Sorry, but I am unimpressed with the trappings of royalty replete with ermine- trimmed stoles, and those wretched, silly red pumps!

    Do you think Jesus Christ would have had a Coat of Arms? Ermine-trimmed capes? Dippy red girly-pumps? I’m thinking not!


    Aren’t they what girls wear to high school proms?

    What am I missing here?

    • LGS

      Regalia is part of the papacy. It has nothing to do with the ministry of Jesus Christ from 1 B.C. Catholicism is rooted in holy magisterium and sacred tradition. Your comment about “red” pumps is rooted in symbolism that RED symbolizes the blood of the martyrs. Tiaras in the old days are worn both by men and women. Stupid American.

  • albinus1

    I can only hope and pray that this portends a reintroduction of the tiara itself!

  • ChefGabe

    Is this really what they are sitting around doing all day in the Vatican?

  • Steve

    In 2010 (or any year) why does a pope need a coat of arms?

    • wtrmute

      Really, he doesn’t. Why does a (US) State need a flag? Or an anthem? And yet they do have those things. Bishops — and the Holy Father is himself the Bishop of Rome — have coat of arms. They’ve had them ever since High Middle Ages. Your diocesan bishop has one, too: look it up! Revel in your Church’s tradition! Certainly the coats of arms cause no one any harm?

  • pearl

    Its much more detailed and ornate. You can keep looking at it and keep seeing new things. Really beautiful. It reminds me of the work of a new religious congregation in Chicago — Canons Regular of St John Cantius, whose charism is to “Restore the Sacred in liturgy, sacred art, and sacred music.” Modern art has often treated beauty as an optional, even undesirable, feature. I think this coat of arms reminds us that sacred/religious images, signs and symbols involve beauty, which can lead us to contemplation of God and the things of God.



Receive our updates via email.