Beautiful Cathedral Windows Explained: Window No. 1

Last Updated: Sunday, 30 September 2012 Published: Sunday, 13 November 2011 Written by Bernard Lauwyck


As we continue our fund raising for the renovation of OUR LADY OF FAIR HAVEN CATHEDRAL in Roseau,  I would like to invite you on a tour of the beautiful stained glass windows of our Cathedral.  I think you will agree with me that we have wonderful treasures and these should be not only protected but also documented and archived in the Diocesan archives for future generations.  Every picture tells a story.  Let's look at the top of window no. 1


This window depicts the Papal TIARA, the triple crown worn by the Popes, till Pope Paul VI set his tiara aside after the Second Vatican Council.

The Supreme Pontiff's arms have featured a "tiara" since ancient times. It was Benedict XII in 1342 who added a third crown to symbolize the Pope's moral authority over all secular monarchs.  With time, although it lost its temporal meaning, the silver tiara with three gold crowns came to represent the three powers of the Supreme Pontiff: SACRED ORDERS, JURISDICTION and MAGISTERIUM.

In past centuries, Popes wore the tiara at solemn official celebrations and especially on the day of the "coronation" at the beginning of their Pontificate.  Paul VI used for this purpose a precious tiara which the Archdiocese of Milan had presented to him, just as it had given one to Pius XI; but afterwards, Paul VI donated it to a charity and introduced the current use of a simple "mitre".  But he left the "tiara" and the crossed keys as the emblem of the Apostolic See.

Today, the ceremony that begins a Pontificate is no longer called a "coronation". The Pope's full jurisdiction begins the moment he accepts his election by the Cardinals in the Conclave and not with coronation as for secular monarchs. This ceremony, therefore, is simply called the solemn inauguration of his Petrine Ministry, as it was for Benedict XVI on 24 April 2005.  Pope Benedict XVI replaced it with a simple mitre.

Behind the TIARA are the CROSSED KEYS, one gold and the other silver, in the form of a St. Andrew's cross: these have been variously interpreted as symbols of spiritual and temporal power.

Notice also the words about the papal Authority  “COLLATO CLAVUM  PETRO” :  entrusted with  the keys of Peter

St. Matthew's Gospel recounts that Christ said to Peter:  "I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Mt 16: 19).

The keys are therefore the typical symbol of the power that Christ gave to St Peter and his Successors.  This scene is depicted in the two windows below this round window, as you will see in the next message.

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