An umbraculum (Latin for a large parasol) makes up part of the coat of arms of the Reverenda Camera Apostolica, the office in charge of the finances of the Holy See. The coat of arms appears on the facade of the Palazzo della Manifattura Pontificia dei Tabacchi, the tobacco factory set up in 1863 by Pope Pius IX (r. 1846-78), which is situated in Piazza Mastai.
As it was traditionally a royal prerogative to walk beneath a canopy, Pope Alexander VI (r. 1492-1503) began using an umbraculum to symbolise the temporal powers of the Papacy. It was originally carried by a man standing behind the Pope, although the practise has been discontinued.
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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