Vatican City, Mar 19, 2013 / 01:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- When Pope Francis was installed as Bishop of Rome today, the two major symbols of the authority he received were connected to previous Popes.
The inauguration ceremony began with Pope Francis visiting the tomb of St. Peter. He then processed out to the square, with the patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches carrying the Book of the Gospels, his pallium and the Fisherman’s ring.
As the procession made its way, a choir sang a special litany of the saints that included those Popes who have been recognized as saints.
But in addition to these echoes of previous Popes, the papal ring and the pallium – a circular stole of white wool that symbolizes Francis' role as the chief shepherd of the Church – are connected to Paul VI and Benedict XVI, respectively.
The ring, known as the Fisherman’s ring because Jesus made Peter a “fisher of men,” has a unique and circuitous history.
The late Archbishop Pasquale Macchi, former personal secretary of Pope Paul VI, kept the wax cast of a ring made for the Pope by the artist Henry Manfrini.
“The ring was never cast into metal, and Paul VI never wore it because he always wore the ring that was commissioned at the time of the Second Vatican Council,” Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi explained March 18.
Archbishop Macchi, who died in 2006, left the cast to Monsignor Ettore Malnati, and he had a silver ring with gold plating made from the wax cast. The ring depicts Saint Peter holding the keys of Heaven.
After he was elected Pope, Francis was offered several possibilities for his Fisherman’s ring and he chose the one that was created for Paul VI.
The other symbol of Pope Francis’ authority that has a papal connection is the pallium that was placed on his shoulders this morning.
The pallium is made from lamb’s wool and has five red crosses on it to recall the five wounds of Christ. Major archbishops also wear palliums signifying their roles as shepherds, but their crosses are black.
The pallium that Pope Francis received was the exact same one worn by Benedict XVI, according to Fr. Lombardi.