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?