Tuesday, May 26th

Good evening, Good evening,

There are some stories that are much too long to tell and easier to make reference.  Tonight is such a night.  Sitting in the Church at the close of adoration I was looking upon the two flags that side the altar.  As you look forward the altar you will always see an American flag on the left.  As you look to the right side you will also see the Vatican flag.  Both beautiful designs but not the original designs when St. Francis De Sales Parish came into existence. 

The current American Flag is the twenty seventh formal modification since the revolution.  Thirteen stripes for the thirteen English colonies that declared independence from the Royal Crown.  And fifty stars represent the current fifty states.  The blue sets the union of one and all.  For details I leave you the website on Old Glory.


 On the opposite side we find the beautiful Vatican Flag.  It is not always seen but tells a great story.

The flag of Vatican City was adopted on 7 June 1929, the year Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty with Italy, creating a new independent state governed by the Holy See. The Vatican flag is modeled on the 1808 yellow and white flag of the earlier Papal States, to which a papal tiara and keys were later added.”

 “Vatican City Flag

On 7th June 1929, Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty with Italy, which led to the creation of a new Independent state governed by the Holy See. On the same date, the Vatican City flag was adopted.

The flag comprises of two vertical bands, one of gold (or yellow) and the other white, with the crossed keys of Saint Peter and the Papal Tiara centered in the white band. The crossed keys consist of one golden and one silver key, whereby the silver key is placed in the dexter position.The Vatican City flag and the flag of Switzerland are the only square country flags in the world. The yellow and white stripes on the flag of the Vatican City break the heraldic rule of tincture; this is because the Vatican follows God’s rules and not man’s.”


“Originally, the Vatican used a yellow and red flag. In 1808, Pope Pius VII ordered the Vatican’s Noble Guard and other troops to replace the yellow and red colors with yellow and white. However, the troops that were serving in the French armies were exempted and they kept using the former colors. In 1824, the Vatican’s merchant navy used a white and yellow flag, but they were set in diagonal. In 1848, tri-color ties (green and red) were added to the merchant navy. In 1849, Pope Pius IX returned from his exile in Gaeta and ordered the colors of the flag to be placed vertically, replacing the ties with the papal coat of arms. Then on 7th June 1929, the current flag of Vatican City was adopted after Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty with the Italy.

The design of the Vatican flag is specified in the constitution of Vatican City. It is a ceremonial flag, and it is normally flown during various Roman Catholic religious feast days. Whenever a Pope dies, the Vatican City flag is flown at half-staff until the end of the nine-day mourning period. However, this flag is not only used in the territory of Vatican City. This flag is also used by Catholics across the world to promote the identity of the Catholic Church. These include educational institutions, churches, and more.

Within the white half of the Vatican City flag, there is the Vatican City coat of arms. The coat of arms consists of the papal tiara; two keys which represent the keys to Heaven (the golden key represents spiritual power while the silver key represents worldly power). The order in which the keys of the coat of arms of Vatican City is the reverse of the coat of arms of the Holy See; the major reason for this being to distinguish between the two entities); and a red cord which connects the two keys. The red cord, a cincture reminds us of the blood of the martyrs.

The Vatican flag has no restriction on where it is flown or displayed. Mostly, it is flown worldwide, where the Catholic Church is represented or located. The flag is of great importance to the Catholics, and thus it is always in high demand. Currently, the flag can be purchased online, and therefore you can get the original Vatican City flag regardless of your location.

But what of the papal tiara?  What does it mean?  As a point of trivia the last papal tiara belonged to Pope Paul VI.  It is currently on display in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.”


“Near the end of the third session of the Second Vatican Council in 1964, Paul VI descended the steps of the papal throne in St. Peter’s Basilica and ascended to the altar, on which he laid the tiara as a sign of the renunciation of human glory and power in keeping with the renewed spirit of the council. It was announced that the tiara would be sold and the money obtained would be given to charity.  The tiara was purchased by Catholics in the United States and is now kept in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. It is on permanent display in Memorial Hall along with the stole that Pope John XXIII wore at the opening of the Second Vatican Council.”

 Symbolism of the Tiara is far from certain as it passed down through the millennia. There are plenty of theories to go around.  The one I remember from the seminary referred to the three states of the papacy:  Vicar of Christ; Leader of Western Rite; Bishop of Rome.  They also represent the three powers of the Pope: Teach, Govern, and Sanctify.

Papal Tiara of Pope Paul VI.  Basilica of the National Shrine in DC

 “There is no certainty about what the three crowns of the Triple Tiara symbolize, as is evident from the multitude of interpretations that have been and still are proposed. Some link it to the threefold authority of the “Supreme Pontiff: Universal Pastor (top), Universal Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (middle) and Temporal Power (bottom)”. Others interpret the three tiers as meaning “father of princes and kings, ruler of the world, vicar of Christ“. The words that were used when popes were crowned were: Accipe tiaram tribus coronis ornatam, et scias te esse patrem principum et regum, rectorem orbis in terra vicarium Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi, cui est honor et gloria in saecula saeculorum (“Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art father of princes and kings, ruler of the world, vicar on earth of our Savior Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever”).

Yet others have associated it with the threefold office of Christ, who is Priest, Prophet and King, or “teacher, lawmaker and judge”. Another traditional interpretation was that the three crowns refer to the “Church Militant on earth”, the “Church Suffering after death and before heaven”, and the “Church Triumphant in eternal reward”. Yet another interpretation suggested by Archbishop Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, who designed Pope Benedict XVI’s tiara-less coat of arms, was “order, jurisdiction and magisterium”, while a further theory links the three tiers to the “celestial, human and terrestrial worlds,” which the pope is supposed to symbolically link. Lord Twining suggested that just as the Holy Roman Emperors were crowned three times as king of Germany, king of Italy and Roman emperor, so the popes, to stress the equality of their spiritual authority to the temporal authority of the emperor, chose to be crowned with a tiara bearing three crowns.

God bless one and all. God bless America. God bless the Holy Father and all the Church. Let us pray for one another.

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