Why is the pope’s ring destroyed upon his death?
Each pope has a signet ring made that is called the Fisherman’s Ring because it is engraved with an image of St. Peter fishing. It also is engraved with the pope’s name. The ring is not worn but is used to impress the papal seal upon important documents. This recalls a time when authorities would signify that a document bore the stamp of their authority by pressing their ring into wax on the document itself.
Each pope’s Fisherman’s Ring is destroyed upon his death to signify that his authority as pope has been symbolically ended. The remains of the ring are then placed into his casket, along with other symbols of his papacy.
Papal Transitions by the Dept. of Communications (USCCB)