Pope Francis gave a new example of his preference for simplicity when the Vatican unveiled the symbols of his papacy on Monday, according to The Religion News Service at Associated Press (AP) as reprinted in The Staten Island Advance.
The Argentine pope decided to keep the coat of arms and the motto he chose when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, according to the report. The Vatican also announced that the papal "fisherman's ring" will be a simple ring made of gold-plated silver, cast on a model once prepared for Pope Paul VI. It depicts St. Peter holding the keys of heaven, adds AP.
"The only change the new pope introduced to his previous coat of arms was the substitution of two symbols of papal authority, a miter and the two keys of St. Peter, in place of a cardinal's hat, added AP.
"Besides this change, Francis chose to keep his old symbols, which allude to the Holy Family and to his membership in the Jesuit order: a sun inscribed with the letters "IHS," a star to represent the Virgin Mary and a flower to represent St. Joseph, Jesus' earthly father," according to AP.
"Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio's motto, too, hints at the themes of humility and mercy he has been emphasizing since his election to the papacy," states the report.
On Tuesday (March 19), Pope Francis will preside over a solemn Mass in St. Peter's Square that will mark the official start of his pontificate, adds AP. "The Vatican expects 132 official delegations from all over the world to attend, as well as leaders of Christian churches and other religions. For the first time in more than 1,000 years, the spiritual head of Eastern Orthodoxy, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, will be present at a papal inauguration," according to the report.
So Staten Island religious educators, you can share with your students the fact that Pope Francis will cherish the humility favored by his namesake Saint Francis of Assisi, showing a kinder, gentler papacy as he begins to assume his duties tomorrow. The world awaits the new era with hope and optimism.