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  • John Thavis

The pope’s coat-of-arms and motto

Pope Francis has decided to keep his relatively simple bishop’s coat-of-arms, combining it with traditional papal symbols.

It features the Jesuit emblem and seal (the Greek letters IHS for the name of Jesus, the cross and nails surrounded by a sunburst.) Below are a star on the left, a symbol of Mary, and an image of nard flowers, a symbol of St. Joseph (I know they look like grapes, but they’re flowers.)

Framing the coat-of-arms are the papal miter and silver and gold keys, linked by a red cord.

The pope’s Latin motto “miserando atque eligendo,” recalls a passage from a homily of St. Bede, describing how Jesus chose St. Matthew as his disciple: “He saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him.”

St. Bede’s point was that Jesus chose Matthew not in the usual sense, but with a merciful understanding — something the new pope has already made a theme of his pontificate.

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