Monday, June 30, 2014

Two Keys and a Crown

Have you ever wondered what’s on the flag that hangs to the right of the altar? 

In fact, it’s the flag of Vatican City, adopted in 1929 when Pope Pius XI signed a treaty with Italy creating a new independent state under the government of the Holy See.  The flag has two vertical bands:  gold on the left and white on the right.  The white side also bears the symbols of the Pope as successor to Peter:  two Keys (one gold and one silver) surmounted by the Papal Tiara, a kind of triple crown last used by Pope Paul VI.  The keys, of course, make reference to Jesus giving Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 16:19. The popes are considered successors to Peter, and the gold key represents spiritual power, while the silver key represents worldly power.  They are joined by a red cord.

You will often see this flag flown in Catholic churches alongside or juxtaposed with the flag of the country where the church is located.

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