The Ring of the
Fisherman (Latin: Annulus Piscatoris; Italian: Anello
Piscatorio), also known as the Piscatory Ring, is an official part of
the regalia worn by the Pope, who is head of the
Catholic Church and
successor of Saint Peter, who was a fisherman by trade. It used to
feature a bas-relief of Peter fishing from a boat, a symbolism derived
from the tradition that the apostles were "fishers of men" (Mark
1:17). The Fisherman's Ring is a signet used until 1842 to seal
official documents signed by the Pope.
2 Creation, transfer and destruction
5 External links
A letter written by
Pope Clement IV to his nephew Pietro Grossi in
1265 includes the earliest known mention of the Ring of the Fisherman,
which was used for sealing all the pope's private correspondence.
Public documents, by contrast, were sealed by stamping a different
papal seal onto lead which was attached to the document. Such
documents were historically called papal bulls, named after the
stamped bulla of lead.
Use of the Fisherman's Ring changed during the 15th century when it
was used to seal official documents called papal briefs. That practice
ended in 1842, when the sealing wax was replaced by a stamp which
affixed the same device in red ink.
Through the centuries, the Fisherman's Ring came to be known for its
feudal symbolism. Borrowing from the traditions developed by medieval
monarchs, followers showed respect to the reigning Pope, who was
considered "the emperor of the world", by kneeling at his feet and
kissing the Fisherman's Ring.
Creation, transfer and destruction
A new ring is cast for each
Pope as a general practice in tradition.
Around the relief image is the reigning Pope's Latin name. During the
ceremony of a
Papal coronation or Papal inauguration, the Cardinal
camerlengo slips the ring on the ring finger of the new Pope's right
In breaking with this tradition: "At the official introduction to his
office, the classic ring [remained] in [its] case. It was passed to
Benedict XVI by the dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo
Cardinal Sodano. [The ring was designed by jeweller Claudio Franchi,
who watched as Benedict placed the ring on himself.]"
far from following Benedict's lead, was bestowed his ring by Cardinal
Sodano at his installation.
Upon a papal death, the ring used to be ceremonially destroyed using a
hammer in the presence of other Cardinals by the Camerlengo. This was
done to prevent issuance of forged documents during the interregnum,
or sede vacante. Today, the destruction of the ring's device with
deep scratches is a symbol of the end of rule of the pope who used to
wear that ring. This custom was followed after the resignation of Pope
Benedict XVI by applying two deep cuts, in the shape of a cross, on
the signet with a chisel.
Benedict XVI wore his Fisherman's Ring daily, it is no
longer the custom for popes to wear it at all. Generally, a new pope
will either inherit the daily-wear ring of his predecessor, keep an
old ring of his own preference, or will choose a new daily-wear style.
Pope John Paul I usually wore a wide gold band similar in design to
Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council ring; in imitation of this,
Pope John Paul II wore a wide gold crucifix shaped into a ring that
had belonged to
Pope Paul VI.
In former times, a special coronation ring was placed on the pope's
finger, designed very large since it was worn over the pope's glove.
That custom and the use of a coronation ring ended with
Pope Paul VI.
Generally, popes of the past wore episcopal rings in keeping with the
fashions of the time.
Pope Pius XII, for example, often wore a heavily
ornate ring set with a stone.
Pope Pius IX most often wore a cameo of
himself, made entirely of tiny diamonds, whilst
Pope Pius X wore a
simple, smaller stone-set ring. In keeping with the modern spirit
Pope John XXIII and actually practiced in his later years
Pope Paul VI,
Pope Francis wears a simple gold-plate silver ring
only for papal ceremonies, preferring his small, silver ring from his
days as a cardinal.
^ "Dictionary : RING OF THE FISHERMAN". Catholic Culture.
^ "Sammlung Philippi - The Piscatory Ring (Anulus piscatoris) of Pope
Benedict XVI". Dieter-philippi.de. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
^ Catholic Online. "The Ring of the Fisherman".
^ Administrator. "Sammlung Philippi - The Piscatory Ring (Anulus
Pope Benedict XVI".
^ Brown, Stephen Rex (26 February 2013). "
Pope Benedict's signet ring
will be destroyed using special silver ... hammer to ensure documents
it was used to sign will not be forged". Retrieved 28 February
^ "CNS STORY: Ring of retired
Pope Benedict no longer can be used as
seal". Catholicnews.com. Archived from the original on 2013-03-12.
Pope Francis eschews tradition with silver ring". Capital
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ring of the Fisherman.
Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "The Ring of the Fisherman".
Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Bulls and Briefs". Catholic
Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
The Piscatory Ring (Anulus piscatoris) of
Pope Benedict XVI.
of the Catholic Church
Bishop of Rome
Vicar of Jesus Christ
Successor of the Prince of the Apostles
Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church
Primate of Italy
Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province
Sovereign of the
Vatican City State
Servant of the servants of God
Vicarius Filii Dei
Coats of arms
Coats of arms of the
Holy See and Vatican City
Keys of Heaven
Regalia and insignia
John Paul II
Ring of the Fisherman
Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran
Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
St. Peter's Basilica
Saint Peter's Square
Prefecture of the Pontifical Household
Office for Liturgical Celebrations
Vatican City portal