Mercoledì, 17 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Jeweler pleads for break from tradition to save pope's ring

English
© ANSA

Rome, February 19 - In a case of Vatican tradition
versus art, a Roman goldsmith is pleading that the ring he
designed for Pope Benedict XVI be spared ritual destruction.
Claudio Franchi designed and created for Benedict the
historic Ring of the Fisherman - the symbol pope's have worn for
almost 1,000 years.
And with the retirement of Benedict on February 28, Vatican
tradition demands that this pope's ring be destroyed and a new
one forged for the next pontiff.
That strikes a deep blow to the heart of Franchi, an art
historian who is now pleading for a break from the destructive
ritual of the ring.
"It has a strong symbolic value, and for this reason I hope
it does not get destroyed," said Franchi.
Known also as the Piscatory Ring, the golden symbol of
papal power traditionally shows St. Peter fishing - a classic
reference to the Biblical tradition that Christ's apostles were
his "fishers of men".
Vatican tradition holds that the Fisherman's Ring of an
outgoing pope must be smashed, originally for very practical
reasons: to prevent its fraudulent use after a pope died.
Since as early as 1265, the ring had served as an official
seal on documents signed by the pope - until 1842, when it was
replaced by a stamp.
The ring remained a strong symbol of papal supremacy, with
visitors of every rank greeting the pope by kneeling and kissing
his ring.
In recent times, most popes chose to wear the symbolic ring
rarely, if at all. Instead, most chose a more simple daily-wear
band or, in the case of Pope John Paul II, a wide gold crucifix.
However Benedict, who is 85, decided to reintroduce the
papal ring as an object for daily use when he became Pope in
2005.
Franchi sees that as a gesture from a conservative pope who
wished to "reintroduce something of value from the past".
And because it has served Benedict as a symbolic connection
with papal history, rather than in any official capacity as a
formal seal, it should be treated as an object of art, argues
Franchi.
"That's why it should be saved in a museum, for its
symbolic value, not because I made it," he added.
Franchi said he devoted two weeks' of work to research and
designing the ring for Benedict.
Two models were presented for the pope's selection, "and he
chose the most classic".
The ring, engraved with Benedict's name and containing
about 1.23 ounces of gold, shows St. Peter with his hand cupped
to mimic the shape of the Bernini-designed colonnade that
enfolds St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.
There is still hope for the ring.
According to Vatican Spokesman Federico Lombardi, the
symbol of the papacy will likely be "terminated" after Benedict
formally leaves office.
But he hinted that there may yet be a little room for
reconsideration.
"Objects strictly tied to the ministry of St. Peter must be
destroyed," explained Lombardi.
But, he added, experts within the Holy See are still
considering how precisely the rules around the papal ring are to
be interpreted.
Franchi has seized on that possibility of reprieve.
"I believe the College of Cardinals is figuring out how not
to destroy it," said the goldsmith.
Despite his conservative tendencies, Benedict broke - very
publicly - with tradition by announcing last week that he did
not have the mental and physical strength to continue in a role
that is traditionally held for life.
The last time a pope quit voluntarily was more than 700
years ago, in 1294, when Celestine V vacated the post after a
mere five months.
The latest papal conclave of cardinals to elect a new pope
is expected to start by the middle of March and Benedict will
retire to a monastery now being refurbished inside the Vatican.

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