Many of the buildings and monuments in the centre of Rome are emblazoned with the coats of arms of some of the many popes who ruled the Eternal City for centuries until 1871, when it became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy.
A papal coat of arms is easily identifiable, as the escutcheon of the pope's family will be surmounted by the papal tiara and the keys of St. Peter. A pope who came from a family without a coat of arms would have assumed one upon becoming a bishop.
Many popes were great patrons of art and architecture and, as a consequence, their coats of arms proliferated throughout the city. A good example is Pope Urban VIII (r. 1623-44), who belonged to the Barberini family. The family's coat of arms is made up of three bees and the Barberini bees can be seen buzzing about all over Rome.
Blogging about Rome:
its art, history and culture.
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 and
small-group walking tours
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