Papa Francesco & San Giuseppe
At the time of his election, I didn't pay much attention to the coat of arms that Papa Francesco had as bishop & cardinal. I should have. But better late than never.
Today the Vatican released his official coat of arms as the newly elected Pope. Papa Francesco opted, as I expected, to keep the same coat of arms.
The symbol at the top is obviously that of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) that he is a member of. It is on top of a sun that symbolized Jesus Christ. The gold star & the blue background are symbolic of Mary & his deep devotion to her.
But what is that other symbol in the lower left (your right) of the arms? No, it isn't a bunch of grapes pointing the wrong way. It is a bit of spikenard (nard) in flower. Using spikenard to symbolize San Giuseppe is a part of Hispanic iconography. According to the Vatican, in that tradition San Giuseppe is seen holding a branch of spikenard rather than the staff with lilies in bloom at the end.*
So our new Pope has a devotion to San Giuseppe. That is encouraging news to me. As I said in that post, the Catholic Church needs San Giuseppe's protection & guidance more than ever because of the attacks from within as well as without.
I also have to wonder if Papa Francesco intentionally opted for tomorrow as the day of his installation because it is the main feast of San Giuseppe. But whether he specifically chose it, or it was just the most optimal date, I have no doubt that he will talk about San Giuseppe in his homily. & in doing so, we will get a better sense of his devotion to the Padrone of the Universal Church. I am also sure that it will lead to a greater devotion to San Giuseppe by the entire Church as well.
For that reason, among others, I will be looking forward to what Papa Francesco will have to say to us tomorrow.
* The lilies blooming on the staff comes from the apocryphal story that there were 3 suitors for Mary. The temple priests decided to have each suitor leave his staff there overnight. The one that would burst into bloom would belong to man chosen by God to be espoused to Mary. San Giuseppe's was the one that bloomed. The traditional use of the lily was because it symbolized purity. This was to remind people that he, like Mary, had remained chaste as well as celebate throughout his life. It was also a reminder of how he protected Mary's purity as well.
I will have to do some more reseacrh in the days ahead to see how the connection between spikenard & San Giuseppe came about.
Labels: St. Joseph (San Giuseppe)