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I brought my luggage to Rome as a pilgrim



The Coat of Arms of Benedict XVI

12/05/2005: Vatican

Let’s read together with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger about the elements that comprise his Papal Coat of Arms as from the 6th May 2005. Here is his own description in an autobiography written in 1997.

The story goes that a bear mutilated the horse belonging to Saint Corbiniano, the founder of the diocese of Frisinga, who was on his way to Rome. Corbiniano bitterly scolded the bear and as a punishment loaded it with all the luggage that up till then his horse had been carrying. The bear then had to carry this heavy load to Rome. Cardinal Ratzinger goes on to explain that it is believed that Corbiniano gave the bear its freedom once in Rome. Whether it then went to Abruzzo or returned to the Alps is not important in this legend. Meanwhile, I carried my luggage to Rome and I have already walked for some years now through the streets of the Eternal City charged with my load.
As well, continues the Holy Father in his autobiography of 1997, I chose two other symbols. The first is the shell, which is indeed the sign of our being pilgrims, of our being on a journey: “We do not have here an everlasting dwelling”. But this also reminds me of the legend attributed to Saint Augustine, in which he met a child on the beach trying to put all the water from the sea into a sand bucket, using a shell. The child explained his impossible task to him, but Augustine understood the reference to his useless effort to grasp the infinity of God in his limited human mind. God can be known in humility.
The final symbol has been part of the coat of arms of the bishops of Frisinga for about one thousand years: the crowned Moor. The meaning of this is not known. For me, it is an expression of the universality of the Church, that knows no distinction between race or class, because we are all one in Christ.

Finally, two new elements have been included: the ancient tiara has been replaced by a simple “mitre” and the “pallium”, the ancient typical liturgical insignia of the Supreme Pontiff, has appeared. The pallium can be seen in the Pope’s portraits from the 5th century until the end of the 14th century. The motto that appears on his Coat of Arms as a Cardinal: “Cooperator veritatis” – work together for the realisation of truth - according to an ancient translation, has not been quoted on the Papal Coat of Arms.

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