This morning His Holiness Benedict XVI canonized seven saints, including ones American nun and one Native American—Ss. Marianne Cope and Kateri Tekakwitha. But there was an interesting twist: the Pope wore the fanon today!
|Canonizations this morning in St. Peter's square|
This matters quite a bit in the grand scheme of things. The fanon is a traditional Papal vestment that dates back to at least the eighth century. Moreover, it was a vestment unique to the Papacy. In other words, because only the Pope could wear it, it made his Masses unique in some sense.
|John Paul II at Santa Cecilia in 1982|
Between Vatican II and now the fanon was worn just once, by John Paul II in his visit to Santa Cecilia in 1982. Fr. Z recounts knowing the rector of that basilica at the time and the storm that broke out over the Pope wearing a vestment that seemed to suggest that he was not just a plain bishop, I imagine cries of "triumphalism" resounded. The Master of Ceremonies, Msgr. Magee, was not very pleased either. John Paul never wore it again. Nor did he ever revive any other unique Papal ceremonies, likely for the same reason.
Let us hope that this returns as a permanent item in the Papal sacristy rather than something brought out of a the museum once every few decades. The Pope is not just another bishop, and this is a sure visible symbol of that.
|Paul VI wearing the fanon immediately after his coronation in 1963. If the tiara is ever revived,|
pray that they use a different one than this space capsule.