Pius X photo

What is that on this saint Pope’s chest?


Anyone know?

I hope you have more luck figuring it out. I simply have no idea.

Basically it’s a huge buckle. But I have no idea on the significance or use of the 3 knobs. :confused:

Is it a breastplate representation of each of the three crowns of the papal tiara?

I’m more interested in the Salon article that the image is linked to. :smiley:

I believe the Pope is wearing a mantum, which is a long papal garment like a cope but much larger. That “buckle” I believe is the “morse,” which is the clasp holding the mantum together. Certainly the largest morse I’ve ever seen. The symbolism of those three “knobs” or whatever, I don’t know.

That’s the famous Papal Morse of Leo XIII, those three knobs are beehives.

That morse is a matching set to this Papal Tiara (called the Paris tiara) gifted to the Pope from the people of Paris.

Checked with my husband (who usually knows about these things) & he thinks you’re right. About the 3 knobs on the clasp, no idea. My guess is since there are 3, they represent the Trinity. Could be wrong tho - it wouldn’t be the first time. :wink:

Fascinating! Thanks!

That’s really interesting, I’m not a Catholic (rather obviously) but I love our visits to Rome and find the symbolism on its architecture, columns, fountains and so on quite fascinating.

Why beehives I wonder? The bee was the symbol of the Barberini (Urban VIII) but beehives sound a bit Dan Brown.

“The bee is more honored than other animals, not because it labors, but because it labors for others” (12th Homily of St. John Chrysostom). So, bees, like the clergy and religious men and women in the Church, work unceasingly for the common good of the hive and obey without question their superiors, and above all their queen.

The bee is also a symbol of wisdom, for it collects nectar from many flowers and turns it into nourishing and pleasing honey, which is the ‘gold’ of bees. We should do the same, take whatever we can and transform it through our labor into a superior element useful for us and our neighbor.

The symbolism of bees also signifies the way the Church generates her spiritual fruits because bees are virginal, they don’t have any sexual contact . As the Church gives grace through the purity of her divine Sacraments, so the bees give us honey and wax by the labor of their pure bodies. This is why their wax, considered the fruit of a virgin labor, is worthy to burn in the candles on the altar at the offering of the Holy Sacrifice.

The honey, so agreeable to the palate, is symbolic of spiritual sweetness and religious eloquence. For this reason, the beehive is emblematic of St. Ambrose and of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, two Doctors whom the Church calls mellifluus and mellificuus, that is, with an eloquence as suave and “sweet as honey.”

Like charitable Catholics, bees produce good works for their neighbor at all times by pollinating the plants for food, beauty and air quality, so necessary for the survival of others.

The symbolism goes on regarding the Church. Indeed, the bees work without rest and give their lives without hesitation for the good of the hive. They are instantly and vigorously militant against enemies of the hive. Not only the hive, but the honey, upon which their lives depend, is also vigorously protected. When endangered by heat, they cling to the outside of the hive and beat their wings relentlessly to cool the hive and keep the honey from melting. Many bees die when this happens.

This is a marvelous and unique natural phenomenon that signifies other marvelous and unique phenomena of the Catholic Church: her militant members, her apologists and her martyrs. They gave their lives for the good of the Church, and their blood became the seed for vibrant growth, as happened many times in History.

The bees’ survival depends upon a queen and their unquestioning obedience and loyalty to her, just as we are all absolutely dependent upon Our Lady, the Queen of Heaven, for our eternal salvation and our protection from the world, the flesh and the devil.

The bee is a symbol of Our Lady. Because of its good working habits, the small honeybee is a well-known symbol for work, good order, and diligence. Less commonly known is that the bee is a representation of virginity. The worker bees have no part in the reproduction of its species, except for that of feeding the baby bees. The responsibilities of “bee parenting” are left to the queen bee and the drones. Since virginity is a virtue we find exemplified to its highest capacity in Our Lady, the bee quite naturally becomes one of Her symbols.

Dom Gueranger, O.S.B., in his reading for the feast of Candlemas in The Liturgical Year, quotes St. Anselm, the Archbishop of Canturbury, who “bids us consider three things in the blest Candle: the wax, the wick, and the flame. The wax, … which is the production of the virginal bee, is the flesh of Our Lord [supplied by the Virgin Mary]; the wick, which is within, is His Soul; the flame, which burns on the top, is His Divinity.”

Bees instinctively observe such a tremendous reverence for their authority that none dare leave the hive to swarm in other pastures unless the queen has gone forth in front of them and claimed the first rank of flight for herself. The ever-vigilant bees guard their queen and hive - as we should guard Our Queen and our Church - to the ultimate price, and instinctively consider it a duty to die for them.

Finally, perhaps you noticed, the natural beehive is shaped similarly to a traditional Tabernacle!

No, I’m not questioning the bee imagery - Barberini bees are something of a feature in Rome, for example. :slight_smile:

It was purely the beehive I was thinking about. Does it occur elsewhere in Catholic regalia, I wonder?

All that came to my mind was a Douglas Adams reference from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy regarding a particular resident of the planet Eroticon 6. I think she also makes an appearance in the reboot of Total Recall.

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