Update on Pope Francis' ring

This article appears in the Pope Francis feature series. View the full series.

Vatican City — As part of his inauguration to his papal ministry Tuesday, Pope Francis received a special signet ring, the seal of which is used to signify approval of special Vatican documents.

All popes wear a special ring, named the fisherman's ring after Peter's initial job as a fisherman. 

Initial reports on Francis' ring, a gold-plate silver band with a small face carrying a relief image of a bearded St. Peter holding the symbolic keys to heaven, were a bit confused.

Clarifying the matter Tuesday, Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said Francis' ring was not quite a hand-me-down, as first reported.

Lombardi said Tuesday the ring was initially designed for Pope Paul VI, but was never made. Instead, Lombardi said, a wax mold of the ring had been kept by Paul VI’s former secretary, Archbishop Pasquale Macchi, who, at his death, passed it on to Msgr. Ettore Malnati, an aide.

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Malnati, Lombardi said, had the mold used to make a ring, which Francis then chose to wear as his.

Hand-me-downs, it seems, always have good provenance stories.


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