5 Things the Pope Wears and What they Mean

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The Catholic church is one full of long held traditions. As an outsider attending a mass recently, I was struck by the simplicity and beauty of the rituals and prayers.

The Pope is a man surrounded by ritual, and I’ve always wondered about the symbolism of his various vestments and accessories. So here are 5 for those who are also curious.

Triregnum – is a crown with three levels, represents the pope’s three functions as supreme pastor, supreme teacher and supreme priest. It is used during the coronation and also various processions, such as entering or leaving Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Papal Cross – is the pastoral staff used by the Pope. Symbolic of his role as a pastor, it is different to the crozier used by bishops.

Ring of the Fisherman – is a pure gold ring featuring St Peter in a boat, casting his net and the Pope’s name surrounding it. It was once used to seal papal brief, but now is largely symbolic of the role of the Pope as a “fisher of men”

Pallium – is the circular band of fabric from which two twelve-inch-long pendants hang down and is decorated with six crosses. It’s a piece of clothing applicable only to him, but for many centuries he would give it to certain bishops as a symbol of the jurisdiction delegated to them by the Holy See.

Coat of arms – each pope has a personal coat of arms, each one surmounted by a silver and gold key, crossed over to form an X. The keys represent the “keys to the Kingdom of Heaven” referred to in the Old and New Testaments.