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The Hidden Meaning Behind the Pope’s Accessories

Have you ever wondered what the Pope's wardrobe symbolizes?

Have you ever put your attention to the Pope’s wardrobe whenever he goes out on public appearances? Have you noticed that he would wear different clothes and accessories, depending on the occasion he’s attending?

Aside from the chasuble that he often wears on Sunday Masses, Pope Francis would wear certain objects or emblems when marking special occasions like Christmas Eve, Holy Week, or Easter Sunday. Called the Papal Regalia, these accessories signify important events in Catholic History that are still being honored by the faithful even to this day. (Read: The 500-Year History of Catholicism in the Philippines)

From representing the significant roles of the Pope in leading the Church to the sacrifices that Jesus made to save humanity, My Pope explores the hidden meanings behind some of the most popular accessories that Pope Francis wears from head to toe.

On His Head: The Miter

Photo from Mondadori Portfolio (Galazka)

Pope Francis wears this tall headdress during rituals to symbolize victory, as the Santo Papa is believed to be the one who leads people to salvation. Some of the miters that Pope Francis uses have two cusps of cloth on the back—accessories that symbolize the Old and New Testaments. (Read: What are the Pope’s official duties?)

On His Hand: The Piscatory Ring

Photo from Vatican Media

The Piscatory Ring or the Ring of the Fisherman represents the apostle and first pope, St. Peter—a fisherman. While Pope Francis has an official Piscatory Ring (a simple one that was originally designed for Pope Paul VI) that he wears during special occasions, he still opts to use his own accessory that is the silver ring that’s been with him since he was cardinal of Argentina. (Read: 5 Times Pope Francis Championed Sustainable Living)

On His Shoulders: The Pallium

Photo from Ansa and Mondadori Portfolio (Galazka)

Worn over the chasuble, this accessory represents the sheep that the shepherd (the bishop or the pope) carries on his shoulders every day. In this, there are six crosses intertwined—four on the front and two on the back. They symbolize the six wounds Jesus suffered in His Passion. (Read: Who really is Pontius Pilate?)

On His Chest: The Brooch

Photo from Mondadori Portfolio (Galazka)

Three pins keep Pope Francis’ pallium in place. These accessories, usually either gold or black, symbolize the three nails used in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. (Read: Four Daily Prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus)


Text by Matteo Valsecchi with Aizel Dolom.

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