On March 13th, 2013, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, became the first Jesuit to be elected Pope, taking the regnal name Francesco.
Within a short period the new pope's coat of arms began to appear on the facades of Rome's churches, including, of course, the Chiesa del Gesu, the mother church of the Jesuits.
Pope Francis decided to keep the coat of arms he had chosen when he was consecrated a bishop. At the top of the blue shield is the emblem of the Society of Jesus, a radiant sun bearing the letters IHS, the monogram of the Jesuits. The letter H is crowned with a cross and below are three black nails. Lower down on the shield there is a star and a spikenard, symbols, respectively, of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph.
The shield is crowned with the symbols of papal authority, the crossed keys of St Peter. However, Pope Francis, in common with his predecessor Benedict XIV (r. 2005-13), elected to replace the traditional papal tiara with a bishop's mitre.
Pope Francis's motto is: MISERANDO ATQUE ELIGENDO (to be pitied and yet to be chosen), which is taken from a homily by the Venerable Bede (c. 672-735).
Related post: Papal Coats of Arms.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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