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Nrs  257-275




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258 Pius VII



Empire Français




Barbara Chiaramonti (in religion Gregorio) was born at Cesena in 1742, and was the son of Scipione Count Chiaramonti and of Giovanna Coronata dei Marchesi Ghini. His family, which has been attached by imaginative genealogists to various houses of similar names in France, Spain and Italy, appears in Cesena in the 16th century.

            The Chiaramonti arms are, Party bendwise Or and Azure, a bend Argent with three Moors’heads Sable their eyes bandaged Argent; a chief Azure with three molets of eight points Or. Piius VI bore these arms in sinister, together with, in the dexter, the arms of the Benedictine Order, Argent, a triple mount vert bearing a cross of Calvary Sable, with the word PAX Sable in fess over all (Sometimes the cross is placed on the word Pax).

A good example of the arms of this Pope is to be seen on the base of the obelisk in the Pincio Gardens.


Foto H.d.V. 5.V.2005

Arms of Pius VII in the Pincio Gardens, Rome.


259 Leo XII



Annibale - Francesco  - Clemente-Melchiore-Giroloamo-Nicola Sermattei della Genga was born in 1760 in the castle of  La Genga near Fabriano, and ws the sixth child of Ilario Sermattei Gount della Genga and of Maria Luigia Countess Preiberti. The counts della Genga appear in possession of  La Genga in the 12th century, and their history is the usual one of Italian feudal families, namely an unending strgles against the neighbouring city, in this case Fabriano.

Leo XII´s arms, Azure an eagle crowned gold appear on his monument and on his coins, and in mosaic on the façade of the cathedral at Orvieto.


Arms of Leo XII

On: Jesus crowns his Mother as Queen of Heaven in the uppermost gable on the Orvieto façade.


260 Pius VIII




Francesco-Saverio Castiglioni, the son of Carlo Castigion and of Sanzia Ghislieri di Feni, was born at Cingoli in 1761. His family descend from Giulio Castiglioni, a banker established in 1600 at Cingoli who is supposed to be a descendant of the Castiglioni of Vedano near Varese, a branch of the ancient house of Castiglione Olona.

The Pope’s arms are the same as those of the Castiglione Olona family, Gules, a lion silver holding a castle gold. Above the door of the sacristy of St. Peter’s  the lion is placed on a terrace.


261 Gregorius XVI




Bartolomeo-Alberto Cappeleari (in religion Mauro) was the son of Giovanni-Battista Capellari and of Giulia Cera, and was born at Belluno.

His family, the Capellari della Colomba, entered the patriciate of Belluno in 1670 and received a  confirmation of nobility feom the Austrian Emperor on 28th February 1821. Their arms are Party fess-wise azure and silver, a fess gules charged with three molets of six points gold and accompaned in chief by a hat with two strings and tassedls sable. Gregory bore these arms in sinister parted with those of the Camaldolese Order: Azure a chakice gold between two silver doves, armed gules, drinking from the chalice an surmounted in cheif by a comet gold set pale-wise.

The latter cot is also found with the field gules.

Gregory XVI’s arms apear on his tomb in the. Peter’s, on his coins and on the usual officia documents




Sede Vacante




262 Pius IX




Regno d´Italia



263 Leo XIII



Gioacchino-Vincenzo-Rafaele-Aloisio Pecci, born at Carpineto in 1810, was the son of Domenico Lodovico Pecci, who commanded the guard of Prince Aldobrandini at Carpineto, and of Anna Prosperi Buzzi, of Cori.

The Pecci appear in Carpineto in the 16th century; their claim to descent from the older and more importatnt Pecci of Siena appears to be based on no evidence whatsoever, and  young Gioacchino was even obliged to get himself  inscribed on the roll of the nobiity of Anagni before he could enter the Accdemia dei Nobili Ecclesiastici. There is however some probability of the descent of the Carpineto family from the older house of Gubbio which also bearsa pine-tree in its shield.

In the cloisters of San Pietro and elswhere in Carpineto numerous  coats of the Pecci family are to be seen showing a bewidering variety of combinatiosns of pine-trees, fleyurs-de-lis, rose-bushes,  stars and comets.

Leo XIII however bore Azure, a pine–tree on a terrace vert between two fleurs-de-lis silver, a comet set bendwise in the dexter chief gold, and a fess silver over all. Variants are common for the comet is sometimes silver and the fleur-de-lis gold.




264 Pius X



Guiseppe-Melchiore Sarto was born at Riese in 1835, and was the son of Giovanni-Battista Sarto and of Margherita Sansoni. His father was bailiff of the courts at Riese and came of a peasant family originally hailing from Villa Estense.

            When Bishop of Mantua the future Pope adopted the following arms, Azure, a three-tined anchor pale-wise above waves of the sea all proper, in chief a molet of six points Or. As patriarch of Venice he added to the coat a chief Argent with a lion of St Mark standing proper, and he continued to use these arms during his Pontificate. The bearing of the forequarters of the lion of St Mark, the molleca, or even the entire lion in a chief gules is the common practice of the ducal families of Venice, and the somewhat unheraldic change of tinctures in Pius X’s arms was due to a desire to distinguish the symbol of the patron of the diocese from the ancient banner of the Venetian Republic. The anchor is not infrequently set bendwise and is also represented as a foul anchor. [1])


265 Benedictus XV




Giacomo della Chiesa, born at Genoa in 185, was the son of Giuseppe Marquess della Chiesa and of Giovanna Migliorati.

            The Pope’s family originally came from Acqui, passed to Genoa towards the end of the 15th century and was admitted in 1528 to the Albergo Salvago, thereby entering the Genoese patriciate.

            The della Chiesa arms are Party bendwise Azure and Or, a church Argent roofed Gules and a chief Or with a demi eagle Sable.  (Galbreath p. 105, drawing Otto Hupp, 1916).


266 Pius XI




Achille Ratti was born at Desio near Milan on 31st May 1857. He is the son of Francesco Ratti and of Teresa Galli, and belongs to a family which originally came from Cherasco in Piedmont, but has been settled for three centuries at Rogeno in the Brianza.

            Pius XI’s arms are Argent three roundels Gules, and a chief Or with an eagle Sable. The 15th century book of arms in the Biblioteca Trivulziana gives these arms to the “De Ratis de Tretona,” a family which appears at Tortona in the 13th century. Similar arms are borne by a Ratti family of Genoa, and identical ones by the Oppizoni of Milan apparently connected agnatically with the Ratti of Tortona. A connection of the Cherasco-Rogeno family with the Tortona house  is not at all impossible.

(Galbreath, p. 106. Santa Maria, “I Papi Lombardi,” Riv. Ar. 1922 p. 42. “les Armes de S.S. Pie XI,” Les Echos de St Maurice, 1929, p. 192. Colour woodcut by Paul Boesch)


Foto H.d.V.05.05.2005


267 Pius XII


Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli was born in Rome on 2nd March 1876, and was the second son of Filippo Pacelli and of Virginia Graziosi. His family originally came from Oriano near Viterbo, acquired the nobility of Acquapendente in 1853, and in 1858 its inscription among the patriciate of Sant’ Arcangelo in Vado.

            The original arms of the family were Azure, upon a mount of three coupeaux Argent issuing from a champagne Vert, a dove contournée of the second holding in the beak an olive branch of the third. These were later changed to Azure, upon a mount Argent issuant from water in base proper a dove of the second holding in the beak an olive branch Vert. In recognition of their part in the conclusion of the Lateran Treaty in 1929 the future Pope was made a cardinal and his brother was made first a marquess by the Pope and secondly a prince by the king. The new Cardinal Pacelli thereupon changed his arms which became Azure, on a mount of three coupeaux in base Argent, a dove rising reguardant of the second holding in the beak an olive branch Vert, a rainbow haussé in bend sinister proper with the motto “opus iustitiæ pax”. Upon his election as Pope he changed the arms once again; they then became Azure, on a mount of three coupeaux Argent issuant from a champagne Vert charged with waves of the sea proper a dove reguardant of the second holding in the beak an olive branch also Vert. (Galbreath, p. 107, Pl. vii)


268 Giovanni XXIII



Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was born in Sotto il Monte near Bergamo on 25th November 1881 of peasant stock. He was the son of Giovanni Battista Roncalli, a farmer, and of Marianna Mazzola.

            When the future Pope became titular archbishop of Areopolis in 1925 he came to be in need of arms and adopted one of the several Rocalli coats used in Lombardy. Later he changed these arms under the influence of a painted shield which was found beneath the plaster in a house which he was renting in his native town. To the basic arms he added two fleurs-de-lis as the symbols of the Theban martyr Alexander, who was the patron of the diocese of Bergamo. He also changed the tincture of the tower from Argent to proper. When he became patriarch of Venice in 1953 he followed the example of some of his predecessors and added a chief of the patriarchate, thus bearing for arms Gules, a fesse Argent, over all a tower proper between two fleurs-de-lis in chief of the second; on a chief also Argent a winged lion statant guardant nimbed and resting the dexter fore-paw on an open book inscribed “pax tibi marce evangelista meus” all proper, with the motto “oboedientia et pax”.

            Upon his election to the Pontificate he continued to use exactly the same coat, thus emulating his predecessor in both the See of Venice and the Chair of Peter, St. Pius X.


(Galbreath, p. 107, Heim 1979, pp. 138 pl. viii. B.B. Heim: Das Wappen des Papstes. In: Arch. Heraldicum, 1959, pp 26-27. Drawing B.B. Heim 6.xi.’58)


269 Paolo VI




Giovanni Battista Montini was born in Concessio near Brescia on 26th September 1907 and was the son of Giorgio Montini and of Giudetta Alghisi.

            When appointed archbishop of Milan in 1954, he assumed a coat which “cants” upon his family name, Gules, issuant from the base a mount of six coupeaux and in chief three fleurs-de-lis, one and two Argent. The three fleurs-de-lis are understood to symbolize the Holy Trinity. The motto was “in nomine domine”.

               He too, upon his election as Pope chose to continue the use of the same arms as hitherto.


(Galbreath, p. 107. Hartmann, P. Plazidius: Das wappen des Papstes Paul VI. In: Arch. Heraldicum 1964 pp. 37-38. (Drawing B.B. Heim, 1963).


270 Giovanni Paolo I




Albino Luciano was born 17th October 1912 and became bisshop on 27th December 1958. He became patriarch of Venice on 15th December 1969 and was made cardinal on 5th March 1973. He was elected to the Pontificate on 26th August 1978 and died after a reign of only 33 days on 29 September of the same year. 

            His arms are Azure a mount of six coupeaux Argent, in chief three mullets Or, and a chief Argent, the lion of St Marc with an open book inscribed “pax tibi marce evangelista meusall Or.


271 Giovanni Paolo II

1978-† 2.IV.2005



Karol Wojtyla werd op 18 mei 1920 geboren in Krakow en verloor zijn moeder reeds op tienjarige leeftijd. In de tweede wereldoorlog speelde hij als toneelspeler een bescheiden rol in het Poolse verzet. Hij ontving zijn priesterwijding op 1 november 1946 en promoveerde in 1948 als doctor in de filosofie en theologie. Op 16 october 1978 werd hij tot paus gekozen en hij spreidde tijdens zijn pontificaat een groot charisma ten toon waarbij hij ook zijn relatief jonge leeftijd uitbuitte. Door zijn politieke stellingname droeg hij bij tot de val van het communisme maar zijn bewind kan verder worden gekenmerkt als conservatief in geloofszaken en wat zijn bevolkingspolitiek betreft zelfs als desatreus ultrareactionair. De steun van de Zuidamerikaanse clerus aan de emanciptatie van het proletariaat werd door hem geheel verboden en het personeel vervangen. Zeer goed ontvangen werden zijn pogingen om de verhoudingen tussen de Kerk en het jodendom te verbeteren. Daartoe beleed hij openlijk de schuld van de kerk aan de jodenvervolgingen.


Upon his election to the Pontificate Karol Wojtyla adopted as arms Azure, a cross Or shifted to the dexter and in sinister base the letter M also Or. The letter M in this coat of arms is for the holy virgin Mary, his personal patron saint.

(Drawing B.B. Heim, 1978).


272 Benedictus XVI




Joseph Ratzinger was born on 16 April 1927 in Marktl am Inn in Bavaria, the son of a policeman who in turn came from a family of farmers in Bavaria. Ratzinger spent his childhood in Traunbstein. From 1946 to 1951 he studied philosophy and theology at the University of Munich and the Freising School of Philosophy and Theology. In 1951 he was ordained a priest. In 1953 he obtained his doctorate with a thesis entitled The People and the House of God in the Church Doctrine of St. Augustine.

In 1969 he became professor of dogmatic theology at the University of Regensburg and in March 1977 Pope Paul elected him Archbishop of Munich and Freising. A few months later he was appointed cardinal in the consistory on 27 June. On 25 November 1981, John Paul II appointed him prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, after which he was the doctrinal support and refuge of the Polish Pope for twenty years and was primarily responsible for the move to the right that the Catholic Church took during the Pontificate of John Paul. II created.

On 19 April  2005, after only four rounds of voting, he was elected pope by the conclave in the Sistine Chapel and crowned and consecrated in Rome on 24 April. He abdicated on 28 february 2013


The coat of arms is: Mantle cut, in 1 Gold, a Moor's head with a red crown, 2. Gold, a red, walking, packed bear, 3. Red, a golden scallop shell. The shield covered with a silver miter with gold cross bands and cross, and placed on a crossed gold and a silver key and a hanging pallium with red crosses.


The full title of the Pope now reads: Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of Peter, Chief Shepherd of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Ecclesiastical Province, Bishop of Rome and Sovereign of the Vatican City State .



273 Franciscus I





Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the son of Mario José Bergoglio and Regina María Sívori, is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century. He is also the first Pope since Gregory XVI (1831–1846) to have been a priest of a religious order.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 17 December 1936. Bergoglio was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969, and from 1973 to 1979 was Argentina's provincial superior of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He became the archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was created a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. He led the Argentine Church during the December 2001 riots in Argentina. The administrations of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner considered him a political rival. Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February 2013, a papal conclave elected Bergoglio as his successor on 13 March. He chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi.


The Shield

In the essential features, Pope Francis has decided to keep his earlier coat of arms, chosen since his episcopal consecration and characterized by linear simplicity.

The blue shield is surmounted by the symbols of papal dignity, the same as those desired by the predecessor Benedict XVI (miter placed between gold and silver decussed keys, bound by a red cord). In chief, the emblem of the Society of Jesus: a sun radiant charged with the letters, in red, IHS, the monogram of Christ. The letter H is surmounted by a cross; at the tip, the three nails in black.

In base are the star and the nard flower (Nigella damascena - Ranunculaceae). The star, according to the ancient heraldic tradition, symbolizes the Virgin Mary, while the nard flower indicates Saint Joseph, patron of the universal Church. In the Hispanic iconographic tradition, in fact, Saint Joseph is depicted with a branch of nard in his hand. By placing these images in his shield, the Pope intended to express his particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph.


The Motto

The motto is taken from the homilies of St. Bede the Venerable (Om. 21; CCL 122, 149-151), who, commenting on the evangelical episode of St. Matthew's vocation, writes: "Vidit ergo lesus publicanum et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi Sequere me ”(He saw Jesus a tax collector and since he looked at him with a feeling of love and chose him, he said to him: Follow me).

This homily is a tribute to divine mercy and is reproduced in the Liturgy of the Hours of the feast of St. Matthew. It has a particular meaning in the life and spiritual itinerary of the Pope. In fact, on the feast of St. Matthew in the year 1953, the young Jorge Bergoglio experienced, at the age of 17, in a very particular way, the loving presence of God in his life. Following a confession, he felt his heart touched and he felt the descent of God's mercy, who with a look of tender love, called him to religious life, following the example of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Once elected Bishop, H.E. Bishop Bergoglio, in memory of this event which marked the beginnings of his total consecration to God in His Church, decided to choose, as his motto and program of life, the expression of San Beda miserando atque eligendo, which he also intended to reproduce in the own papal coat of arms.






Galbreath, Donald Lindsay

Papal Heraldry. Second edition revised by Geoffrey Briggs. Heraldry Today. London, 1972. 135 pp., VIII Pl., 206 figs.

Querfurth, C.O. von

Die Wappen der Päpste. In: Zeitschrift für Heraldik und Genealogie "Der Adler", 1876, pp. 49-51.

Querfurth, C.O. von

Die Wappenschilde der Päpste. In: Zeitschrift für Heraldik und Genea­logie "Der Adler". 187?, pp. 28-33, Taf. I-III.



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 © Hubert de Vries 2020-08-29




[1]) Galbreath, p. 105, drawing by Otto Hupp, 1906. Das Wappen des Papstes Pius X. In: Der Deutsche Herold,  1904, p. 14.