The Beginning




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The Beginning

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Early Papal Emblems


The aearliest symbol of  christian religious authority authority was a latin cross and the emblem or badge of its bishops a christogram or P- monogram. In the 6th century this was replaced by a symbol more specific for the man occupying the office of bishop or the pope acting as the deputy of Christ.

The early popes did not serve  of shields or coats of arms to present themeselves but of papal cyphers or monograms as did many of their contemporary rulers. These were displayed in buildings or other public places but also on coins circulating amongst their subjects.

Nevertheles, the number of papal monograms known is quite small, taking into account the many popes there have been. Also the tradition apparenly was interruptted after the Great Schism of 1054.


25 John II



Marble choir fence (schola cantorum) of the San Clemente in Rome

 with the monogram of Pope John II  (533-535), carved into a number of panels of the choir enclosure. 

Dating from the previous Basilica.


72 Hadrian I




75 Paschalius I



Monogram of Pope Paschalius I in Santa Cecilia in Trastevere


Pope Paschal I rebuilt the church in 822, and moved here the relics of St Cecilia from the Catacombs of St Calixtus..


Gregorus IV




79 Johannes




80 Leo IV




81 Benedictus III




84 Hadrian II




85 John VIII



133 Clemens II         



Papst Clemens II

Bamberg, Dom, Georgenchor, 1 Pfeiler der Nordseite

Júngere Bildhauerwerkstatt

Bamberg, zwischen 1225 und 1237

Schilfsandstein. H. 164 cm.



Tomb of Pope Clemens II, formerly Bishop Suidger of Bamberg († 1047) in the choir of St. Peter of Bamberg Dom. On the front St. Peter armed with a sword and a shield charged with a paschal lamb. On the sides Ecclesia with a lion and Synagogue with a dragon.


135 Leo IX



Signature of Pope Leo IX

On a privilege of 11.10.1051


Alexander III



In theTreasury of Sens Cathedral a large piece of silk is preserved decorated with peacocks and griffins.


344. Textile Fragment from the Reliquary of Saint Potentiatus.

Byzantine or Siculo-Byzantine (?) 12th century.

Silk, 145 x 97 cm.

provenance: Reliquary of Saint Potentianus (Potentien)

Trésor de la Cathédrale de Saint-Étienne, Sens, France (b7)


This textile fragment from the reliquary of Saint Potentianus, martyred third-century bishop of Sens, may be the fabric that was placed around his remains in the early thirteenth century. The bluish purple silk has a design in red and blue of large circles with frames composed of pseudo-Kufic inscriptions. Connected axially by small disks, the circles enclose stylized trees with pairs of griffins and birds (peacocks?), one above the other. The interstices are filled with tree motif containing two pairs of birds, and yellow beading trims the edge. 


Evans, Helen C. & William D. Wixom. Eds. The Glory of Byzantium. Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era A.D. 843-1261. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1997.


The peacocks are the badge of rank of a prefect and the griffins of a metropolite.  These emblems would match a pope. These emblems would match a pope as the Holy See was a prefecture since the 6th century.


From october 1162 until 23 November 1165 Pope Alexander III resided in Sens in exile


191 Bonifatius VIII



Portrait of Bonifatius VIII by Giotto (1276-1337).

Basilica di S. Giovanni in Laterano, Rome.


This is the oldest picture of a heraldic coat of arms of a pope


Arms: Or, two bends wavy Azure (Caetani). (Galb. p. 38).


Boniface VIII seated before a curtain with his arms, receiving St Louis

By Simone Martini. Coll. Naples Museum [1]


Tomb of Bonifatius VIII, Vatican grottoes

Decorated with his arms


192 Benedictus XI



Tomb of Bededictus XI, Perugia


On his tomb at Perugia are two plain shields, unfortunately not showing any traces of heraldic bearings.



193 Clemens V*



Sou d’or of Clement V. From Sorgues


Plain shields are also on the arms of Clement V in the cathedral of St Bertrand de Commignes




Papal residence in Avignon 1309-1367


194 Johannes XXII*



Jacques Duèze, the son of Arnaud Duèze, was born at Cahors of a family of wealthy burgesses who were making their way into the ranks of the lower nobility.

In 1702 Dom Bruno Malvesin in a study of  the charterhouse of Cahors came to the conclusion as to the tinctures of that Pope’s arms:

Quarterly, first and fourth, silver a lion azure in an orle of roundels gules, second and third, gules two bars gold

Outer wall of Cardinal Jean de Via’s Chape, Cathedral of Avignon

Galbreath pp. 77, 115

The arms of John XXII and the church

from a stone carving (the roundels omitted)

Coll Galbreath


195 *Nicolaas V



Nicholas V, born Pietro Rainalducci (c. 1258 – 16 October 1333)[1] was an antipope in Italy from 12 May 1328 to 25 July 1330 during the pontificate of Pope John XXII (1316–1334) at Avignon. He was the last antipope set up by a Holy Roman Emperor.



196 Benedictus XII*


Keystone with the arms of Benedict XII

Papal Palace Avignon


Arms: Argent, a bordure Gules

Crest: Two crossed keys


Avignon (Vaucluse) Métropole Notre Dame des Doms. 84.001.116 - Tombeau du Pape Benoit XII (XIVe s)


The four coats of arms above the tomb are not of Benedictus XII but of an unknown cleric.


197 Clemens VI*



Arms of Clemens VI

Porte des Champeaux, Papal Palace, Avignon


Pierre Roger was the son of Guillaume Roger, Lord of Rosiers, and of Guillemette de Mestre. The Rogers of Rosiers became lords of Beaufort en Vallée and that name supplanted the original patronymic.

Clement’s arms, Argent, a bend Azure between six roses Gules buttoned Or, appear on his seal as Archbishop of Rouen, 1333, and on the seal of the bailiwick of Louviers, a fief of the see of Rouen, 1338, as well as on a lamp presented by him to the town of St. Esprit near Bayonne, but the arms in the missal, in the library of Clermont-Ferrand, sometimes attributed to him, are those of Louis Roger de Beaufort, marquis de Canillac, and date from the 15th century. Ciacconius makes the field of the shield gold and is followed in this mistake by others. Gelre’s book of arms (1365-’75) gives the arms of the g va befoort as supra, with an old man’s head as crest.


198 Innocentius VI*


Keystones with the arms of Innocent VI in the parish church Saint Eutrope de Beyssac (Corrèze)


Arms: Gules a lion Or and a bend Azure over all, and a chief Gules, thre shells Argent and a fess Azure.

The shields are augmented with a second chief Gules, two crossed keys Argent or, two pairs of crossed keys.

Crown: A papal tiara

Supporters: two pairs of crossed keys


The vault of Saint Eutrope de Beyssac with keystones


199 Urbanus V*



Coat of arms of Pope Urban V in Porta S. Francesco in Assisi


Guilaume Grimoard was the son of Guillaume Grimoard, lord of Grisac, and of Amphelisa de Sabran, Countess of Montferrand.

A fine example of his arms, Gules, a chief indented Or, appears in a manuscript in the Vatican Library. The same shield appears repatedly on the ciborium of St. John Lateran, in some cases with a chief of the Papacy. It can be seen in the latter form in a manuscript of the library of  the Musée Calvet at Avignon, and on a relief on the cloisters of St John Lateran. 



200 Gregorius XI*              


Papal residence in Avignon 1370-1376




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