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Why do people throw the pope's ring?



Pope Francis visits Loreto on March 25th. (Daniel Ibanez / CNA)

Curiosity about papal custom growing after video of Francis went viral this week.

LORETO, Italy – The Vatican press office refused to comment after a video became viral this week, showing that the Pope apparently refuses to allow pilgrims to kiss his ring when they met him.

The clip was taken from video recordings of pilgrims meeting the pope after his celebration in Massa in the sacred house in Loreto, Italy on March 25.

In the clip, which is a little over a minute, Pope Francis seems to pull his hand away whenever a person approaches greeting him and trying to kneel and kiss his hand or ring.

A fuller video from the Vatican Media showed that the Pope received people much longer than the first clip presented ̵

1; approx. 13 minutes in total – and that he had allowed some people to kiss his ring without visible protest during the first part of the greeting.

Adapting to kissing the pope's ring or a bishop has been a gesture of respect in the Church for a longer time than you can remember, but probably began in the late Middle Ages, according to Father Roberto Regoli, who teaches contemporary church history. the papal Gregorian University.

He said kissing the pope's ring "does not express devotion to the Pope's person, but to whom and what he represents: the successor to the fish of Galilee" and "indicates faithfulness and love to the Church."

Although the commonly used Italian expression The greeting is baciamano literally means "hand kiss", Father Regoli said it is misleading, and correctly it is the papal "Ring of the fisherman" who is kissed.

Pope Francis did not seem to be wearing the special ring in Loreto on March 25. Besides the papal ceremonies, Francis is typically seen only on his bishopric.

The usual kissing of the fisherman's ring while it began much earlier was systematized in the 15th century in a text about Pontifical ceremonies, Father Regoli said.

It is customary to kiss a bishop's ring, of reverence for his dignity as a successor of the apostles and a priest's hand, as it has been anointed with crisis to sanctify the body of Christ.

The prayer traditionally said by a bishop before standing with his ring for a pontifical mass is: "The digits of my heart and my body, Lord, adorn with virtue and with the sanctification of the sevenfold Spirit surround them . "

The fisherman's ring is one of several rings that are typically worn by the Roman forehead. The ring takes its name from its picture of St. Peter as a fisherman who was standard designed around the middle of the 15th century.

The first record of the ring's use was in two letters by Clement IV in 1265 and 1266. It was used as wax seal in private letters instead of the official lead seal used for solemn papal documents.

In 1842, the use of the ring and the wax seal was replaced by a stamp, but each pope still receives a unique ring of the fisherman at the beginning of his papacy, which is then destroyed shortly after his death.

In the early 20th century, St. Pius X a partial indulgence to kiss the Fisherman's Ring.

The custom began to change with St. Paul VI in the last decades of the 20th century when he eliminated other forms of showing papal obedience and submission, such as kissing the pope's foot, shoulder and cheek, Father Regoli explained.

Father Johannes Grohe, a professor of church history on the papal universe for the Holy Cross, told CNA that to greet a bishop with a kiss of his ring is a sign of his episcopic dignity and is still "quite widespread. "

Previously, this gesture was accompanied by a bow of the head or a knee bent, "he said, and while" kissing the bishop in an official greeting is still needed to bend the knee not so much. "

Pope Francis continued he" seems to be against it. Sometimes he allows it; sometimes he denies it (even in an apparent way). "

Father Regoli said that with Francis" there is another sensitivity, different from his predecessors, so we tend to simplify the ceremony further by omitting the greeting to re-election against him. "

According to Father Grohe:" There is, in [Pope Francis] an attitude contrary to everything that could remember the court's customs "and" certainly "he added," some customs in ceremonies and pontific audiences have a long tradition and therefore also has the form of other time periods. "

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