|These are the
symbolic equivalents of the three layers of the tiara. They are connected into a unity by the
vertical gold strip, representing the unity of these three kinds of authority in the person of the
Pallium. The use of the white pallium with red crosses draped below the shield is a new
addition to papal coats of arms. It represents episcopal authority, the special kind of
jurisdiction that is reserved to metropolitan archbishops in their province and to the pope
universally in the Church, what is called the plenitudo pontificalis officii (i.e. the
plenitude of pontifical office). The style of pallium shown on the coat of arms, with either red
or black crosses on a narrow band of wool, is what is commonly known from the second millennium.
At his inaugural Mass, Pope Benedict wore an older style of pallium, broad with red crosses, and
hanging down from the left shoulder rather than in the middle. This style is more typical of the
first millennium, and similar to the omophorion representing episcopal authority in the
Crossed Keys. The two crossed keys symbolize the powers Christ gave to the Apostle Peter
and to his successors.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in
heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19)
The gold key represents the power to bind in heaven and the silver key spiritual authority on
earth. The two keys are united by the cord, again indicating their essential unity in Peter and
Caput Aethiopum. According to the website of his former Archdiocese:
"The shield, which is divided into three sections, displays the “Moor of Freising." The Moor’s
head, facing left and typically crowned, appeared on the coat of arms of the old principality of
Freising as early as 1316, during the reign of the Bishop of Freising, Prince Konrad III, and it
remained almost unchanged until the “secularization” of the Church’s estates in that region
in 1802-1803. Ever since that time the archbishops of Munich and Freising have included the Caput
Aethiopum, the head of an Ethiopian, in their episcopal coat of arms."
Bear of Corbinian. Also present on the coat of arms is a bear with a pack-saddle, the
so-called “Bear of Corbinian." The saintly Bishop Corbinian preached the Christian faith in the
Duchy of Bavaria in the 8th century and is considered the spiritual father and patron of the
archdiocese. A legend states that he traveled to Rome with a bear as his pack-animal, after having
commanded it to do so. Once he arrived, he released the bear from his service, and it returned to
Bavaria. The implication is that "Christianity tamed and domesticated the ferocity of paganism and
thus laid the foundations for a great civilization in the Duchy of Bavaria." At the same time,
Corbinian’s Bear, as God’s beast of burden, symbolizes the burden of office.
Scallop Shell. The symbolism of the shell is multiple. St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of
the Church (354-430 AD), was once walking along the seashore, meditating on the unfathomable
mystery of the Holy Trinity. A boy was using a shell to pour seawater into a little hole. When
Augustine asked him what he was doing, he replied, “I am emptying the sea into this hole.”
Thus did Augustine understand that man would never penetrate to the depths of the mystery of God.
Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, in 1953, wrote his doctoral dissertation on “The People of God and the
House of God in Augustine’s Teaching about the Church," and therefore has a personal connection
with the thought of this great Doctor of the Church.
The shell also stands for pilgrimage, for “Jacob’s staff,” a pilgrim’s staff topped with a
scallop shell. In Church art it is a symbol of the apostle James the Great, and his sanctuary at
Santiago de Compostela in Spain, perhaps the principal place of pilgrimage during the middle ages.
This symbol alludes, as well, to “the pilgrim people of God,” a title for the Church which
Joseph Ratzinger championed at the Second Vatican Council as peritus (theological adviser)
to Cardinals Frings of Köln (Cologne). When he became Archbishop he took the shell in his coat of
arms. It is also found in the insignia of the Schottenkloster in Regensburg, where the major
seminary of that diocese is located, a place where Benedict XVI taught as a professor of theology.
We do not yet know what the motto of Pope Benedict XVI will be. However, his episcopal motto was
"cooperators veritatis" (collaborators of the truth).