Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI's Coat of Arms

The new coat of arms of Pope Benedict XVI has been released by the Bavarian diocese of Munich and Freising, of which Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was once archbishop. The three-sectored shield contains a crowned Ethiopian, a bear, and a mussel. View the new coat of arms (Wikipedia). According to the Associated Press via Newsday:
The bear, which is saddled with heavy packs, symbolizes the weight of the papal office, the diocese said in a statement.

It has its origins in a Bavarian legend concerning the diocese's patron, Korbinian, who encountered the animal while on a trip to Rome. The bear ate Korbinian's mule, and God saddled it with the mule's packs.

The mussel dates back to a parable by St. Augustine -- about whose works the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote his final thesis -- and symbolizes "diving into the groundless sea of God," the diocese said.

Read more: Pope's Coat of Arms Has Bavarian Elements

14 comments:

Josh said...

So why the Ethiopian? That's a little odd.

Ed said...

What is the official heraldic blazon? Will the arms be listed in
a roll of arms somewhere?

Jimbo said...

I don't know the significance of the Ethiopian, apart from its presence on Ratzinger's old coat of arms (when he was cardinal) and on his former diocese's insignia.

Mary said...

Re: the Ethiopian. I'll bet it has to do with Acts 8:26-40. In short, Philip's meeting with the Ethiopian official who was reading the Book of Isaiah. Philip asked whether the man understood what he was reading. "How can I unless someone explains it to me?" he said. Philip explained the Scriptures and how they foretold the coming of Jesus Christ. The eunich came to believe, asked to be baptized, and was baptized on the spot.

Chris said...

Since the year 1316 the Bishops of Freising use the Ethiopian head as a tradition.

Jimbo said...

Eureka! Here's a good PBS article about the use of the Ethiopian, or what is referred to as the "blackamoor," in European heraldry. Very thoroughly written and notes that this image is used on the insignia of the see of Freising: On the image of the Blackamoor in European Heraldry

Thomas P said...

Its a very fascinating Coat of Arms. It is interesting also that the pallium that appears on the Coat of Arms is not the same pallium the Pope donned at his Inaugural Mass. That pallium had red crosses and was distinctly Byzantine in style.

James said...

The PBS link was excellent for the connection between Prestor John and the crowned Ethiopian on the Germanic (and now PBXVI) coat of arms. Yet I also think it may be significant that many believe that the Ark of the Covenant was transported to and remained in Ethiopia...

Jimbo said...

Here is an article by Catholic News Service explaining that the details of the new coat of arms are being published in the April 28 issue of L'Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican City: Pope drops papal crown from coat of arms, adds miter, pallium

Anonymous said...

Dear Catholic leadership,
I am a pastor in Southern California and wish to commend the new pope in beginning to purge homosexuals from the church leadership. I think that there are multiplied thousands of members who were or are being molested who deserve a public apology from you to the church. Can you imagine being molested by someone that is supposed to care about you but ends up destroying you? It's time for a public apology.
Pastor Ike Riddle

Anonymous said...

Dear "Pastor Ike Riddle",

I guess the best answer to your posting comes not from the "catholic leadership", but from an Episcopalian (i.e. Anglican) Bishop, the Rt. Rev. William Persell, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, in his Good Friday Sermon of 2002:

"We would be naïve and dishonest were we to say this is a Roman Catholic problem and has nothing to do with us because we have married and female priests in our church. Sin and abusive behavior know no ecclesial or other boundaries."

Anonymous said...

http://www.catholicplanet.com/articles/article41.htm

Rob said...

The crowned Ethiopian in the Shield, according to BXVI's Biography means: "...for me it is a sign of the universality of the church which knows no distinctions of races or classes since all of us are one in Christ."
MILESTONES pg 154

Roman said...

About the Ethiopian, or, better yet, the Moor. He's called the Moor of Freising. He's been on the Coat of Arms of Freising since 1316. All archbishops of Munich and Freising have used this Ethiopian head (Caput Aethiopum) on their episcopal coat of arms.