Monday, 11 March 2013

Papal Retrospective: Paul VI : 5

Pope Paul wearing The Four Evangelists mitre.

One of the admirable pieces of Liturgical art produced during the reign of Pope Paul VI was the well-known mitre shewn in the above photograph. This mitre was especially designed and made for Pope Paul by artisans in the Archdiocese of Milan. Ornamented with embroideries of the Four Evangelists, the mitre is also remarkable for its couched gold thread, running in parallel circles (you can see this in the photograph below). The highest workmanship is evident in this mitre and it is of excellent proportion.

In fact, there were several such mitres. One had silver ornament, the other gold. One was left in Australia after the Papal Visit of 1970: that particular mitre is shewn in the photograph below.

Pope Paul in S' Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, November 1970.

After 1966, Pope Paul usually wore this mitre, such that it became identifiable with him. There was, however, an earlier iteration of this mitre, which was used by Pope Paul on his famous visit to New York in 1965. It is shewn below. The emblems of the Four Evangelists are less elaborately worked on the earlier version.

Pope Paul during the Papal Visit to New York, 1965.

In 1965, Pope Paul introduced a Pastoral Staff for the celebration of the Papal Liturgies. It is a well-known staff, which came to be used by the Blessed John Paul II throughout his Pontificate and, for a short time, by Pope Benedict. Looking at the three photographs above, something else is noticeable. Each of the Pastoral Staffs being used is different, although stylistically similar. Yet another staff is shewn in the photograph below, which was the one subsequently used by Pope John Paul II.

Pope Paul pictured in 1978.

The Four Evangelists mitre had a predecessor which was used briefly by Pope Paul during the years 1965 -1967 and which is sometimes referred to as The Vatican Two mitre.  It was shewn in our previous post on Pope Paul, but some images of it are reproduced below.

At the close of the Second Vatican Council, 1965.

In S' Peter's, 1965.

It is likely that information exists somewhere as to the origins of the design of this mitre.  This much can be claimed: it certainly was intended as some sort of alternative to the triple tiara of Pope Paul VI, which he gave away as alms for the poor.  It has also been suggested that it may represent the triple-barred Cross often associated with the Papacy.  Such Crosses actually do exist in the Vatican (not just in the hands of a statue).  The decoration of this mitre features four lyrebirds around the crown section.

Triple tiara of Pope Paul VI.

Something more may be written about this, which is subject to verification. An author in the field of Ecclesiastical heraldry and protocol, Dr James-Charles Noonan claimed in an interview in 2005 that The Vatican Two mitre (which ceased being used in 1967) was bequeathed by Pope Paul to Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, who possesses it to this day.  Dr Noonan claimed that The Vatican Two mitre was the direct inspiration for the Coat of Arms of Pope Benedict XVI (shewn below).  If this is true, then it seems rather odd that of all the many mitres worn by Pope Benedict during his Pontificate the two he NEVER wore were The Four Evangelists mitre and The Vatican Two mitre.  We can only assume that it was the choice of the Pope not to do so.

Coat of Arms of Pope Benedict XVI.
We may be grateful that no attempt was made by
Pope Benedict to wear a mitre which resembled the one depicted on his Arms.