The coat of arms of Pope Benedict XVI

The coat of arms of Pope Benedict XVI

So does everybody remember Pope Benedict XVI, the German guy who was pope until last month?  While I was doing research on Papal tiaras, I happened to come across his personal coat of arms.  Holy smokes! Tiaras will have to wait—check out this puppy!  Not only does it feature a number of ferrebeekeeper themes–mollusks, mammals, and crowns—it is ridiculously gothic and insanely colorful to boot.  The coat of arms features a moor’s head wearing a crown (and how is that an appropriate thing in the modern world?), a bear wearing a backpack (!), and a large scallop shell.  The scallop shell is an allusion to pilgrimages and also an allegorical story about Saint Augustine walking on the beach and having an epiphany about divinit.  The moor’s head is a traditional symbol of medieval German nobility (as an allusion to beheaded Moorish foes and to suzerainty over Africa):  this particular example is apparently the “Moor of Freising” from the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.  The bear with the backpack is “the bear of St. Corbinian” but I have no idea what he is doing.  Maybe he is going to grade school?

This papal coat of arms is unusual in that it is surmounted by a bishop’s miter instead of the traditional three-tiered papal tiera (a symbol of kingship which the papacy has been phasing out, but more about that in another post).  The truly important element is there however—the fancy gothic keys of Saint Peter which (according to the Catholic Church) grant access to heaven. Now if only there were a catfish…  Speaking of which, below, as a special bonus, I have included the coat of arms of the infamous Urban VIII (who poisoned the birds in the papal garden because their singing disturbed his plotting) which includes the Barberini bees, and the coat of arms of the futile and immoral Pious VI, which shows a weird boy throwing up on a lily.

Coat of Arms of Urban VIII

Coat of Arms of Urban VIII

Coat of Arms of Pious VI

Coat of Arms of Pious VI