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The Pope’s ring

04 Jan 2016, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Doctrines

We are very familiar with people wearing rings on their fingers for various purposes. It could be just for fashion, engagement, and marriage, a means of identification by different groups, a symbol of power and authority. Any reason anyone wears a ring(s), the ring remains a small round band worn around the finger. They come in different sizes, shapes, and colours, though they are mostly in gold or silver.

The Pope, the head of the Catholic Church and the vicar of Christ on earth, wears a ring as part of his regalia.Papal ring This ring, Annulus Piscatoris in Latin, is also called the fisherman’s ring. It is called the fisherman’s ring because the Pope seats on the chair of Peter the fisherman turned fisher of men; in other words, the Pope takes Peter’s place or succeeds him as the leader of the Catholic Church and a fisher of men. This ring is made of pure gold or silver.

Unlike the familiar wearing of rings on the left hand, especially the wedding ring, the Pope wears his ring on the right hand. The Pope used the papal ring or the fisherman’s ring at some point in the Church’s history as his official seal, but that changed with time. The papal ring may not be the official Papal signet today, but it remains a symbol of his authority and responsibility. It is given to the newly elected Pope during the inauguration mass by the Dean of the College of Cardinals, who slips the ring through the Pope’s third finger.

Traditionally, at the end of each Papacy, the ring was smashed. This was so because that particular Pope used the ring as an official seal of his papacy. Today, the Papal ring may not be smashed at the end of a papacy; this is because the next Pope may use the same ring or preserved it for posterity while a new one is cast for the new Pope. It is no longer smashed because it is no longer used as an official seal.

The ring depicts the bearded Peter holding a pair of keys; one representing the heavenly power and authority while the other stands for the Papal spiritual authority on earth. The kneeling to kiss the fisherman’s ring symbolizes acknowledging, respecting, and accepting the Pope’s authority.

The Catholic Church is a very traditional Church, rich in heritage. We are proud of our inheritance.

  • ada Reply

    wonderful teaching, God Bless you Fr Joel. Pls, Fr what of the Rev Sister that wear gold rings too. I discovered that some wear finger rosary while some just wear gold ring at their left hand, second finger, does if symbolizes anything too or just out of choice?

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      Ada, different religious groups may have their own different ways of identifying a solemnly professed member of their congregation. For some, it is by a special ring while some others it may be the colour of their veil. For some others it may be a specially designed crucifix. It depends on each religious congregation.

  • ada Reply

    Thank you Fr Joel for your time. You re really a blessing to our dear parish and the whole church at large.