Papal coat of arms/Papstwappen


(Picture from here).

Pope Benedict XVI has included in his coat of arms all the elements of his Bavarian coat of arms as Archbishop of Munich and Freising.

Yahoo reports:

bq. Das dreigeteilte Schild zeigt links oben den «Freisinger Mohren», den Kopf eines gekrönten Äthiopiers, der seit 1316 als Wappen des alten Fürstbistums Freising bezeugt ist. Rechts oben zeigt das Papstwappen einen Bären mit einem Packsattel, der auf eine Legende des Bayern-Missionars und Bistums-Patrons Korbinian zurück geht. Auf einer Reise nach Rom soll ein Bär Korbinians Saumtier gerissen haben, worauf der Heilige sein Gepäck kurzerhand dem Bären aufgesattelt habe. Der Korbiniansbär symbolisiere als «Lastträger Gottes» auch die Bürde des Amtes, erklärte das Erzbistum.

Some newspapers don’t understand the German:

bq. A crowned Ethiopian, a bear and a mussel — all of which appear on the insignia of the diocese — also appear in the three-sectored insignia chosen by Benedict.

OK, the Ethiopian or Moor, Corbinian’s bear (not Korbinian’s, but gives a new meaning to the right to bear arms), and – just a minute – that’s a scallop shell, a Jakobsmuschel, not a Miesmuschel. (The Pope Blog has ‘mussel’ too).

Here’s the right stuff:

bq. The third element, the shell, has several symbolic meanings. First it refers to a famous legend about St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (354-430 AD). Once as he was walking along the seashore, meditating about the unfathomable mystery of the Holy Trinity, he met a boy who was using a shell to pour seawater into a little hole. When Augustine asked him what he was doing, he received the reply, “I am emptying the sea into this hole.” Thus the shell is a symbol for plunging into the unfathomable sea of the Godhead. It also has a connection, though, with the theologian Joseph Ratzinger and the beginning of his academic career. In 1953 he received a doctorate in theology under Professor Gottlieb Söhngen at the University of Munich by completing a dissertation on “The People of God and the House of God in Augustine’s Teaching about the Church.”
Furthermore, the shell also stands for “Jacob’s staff,” a pilgrim’s staff topped with a scallop shell, which in Church art was the symbol of the apostle James (in Latin, Jacobus).

(Incidentally, see the lively discussion behind the scenes at Wikipedia on the article on the Pope).

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