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Author Topic:   Papal Silver
Scott Martin
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Posts: 11520
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 04-02-2005 02:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Catholics and non-Catholics are saddened by the Pope's passing. I have been listening to the news reports and one in particular caught my attention.

When the Pope dies, there are all kinds of rituals that will be followed (i.e., 9 days of mourning, Cardinals to gather in 15-20 days, etc.). One report described the ritual at the moment of death. All those closest to the Pope call out this name 3 times and then they tap the Pope on the forehead with a silver hammer. The how and why of this ritual wasn't explained. They did add that it was the same silver hammer that will be later used to smash the papal ring. Again they didn't explain the ritual of smashing the ring nor did the report say what happens with the smashed bits.

Besides the obvious questions about the rituals, I thought that forum members might be able to give us insights about the silver hammer. For example: is it the same hammer or a new hammer each time? Who made/makes it? Is there a papal silversmith that makes the papal ring and hammer?

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iconnumber posted 04-02-2005 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kayvee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The ritual of the silver hammer instantly caught my attention, also. A quick search yields the following information. In 2003 there was an exhibit entitled "Saint Peter and the Vatican: the legacy of the Popes" that visited Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Cincinnati and San Diego. Among the 350 objects on display was a "20th Century ceremonial hammer for the verification of the death of the Pope made of ebony and silver gilt." Apparently this object had been used.

Did any Forum members see this exhibit and remember the hammer or have the catalog description of it?

Can we assume that such a hammer is made for every Pope?

The same hammer is used to break the Papal ring and to deface his seal to preclude forgery of official documents following his death.

I have subsequently found a link to an image of the hammer at

It is slide number 49 in the list. No dimensions or description are given

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iconnumber posted 04-05-2005 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Heather     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott asked what happens to the papel ring. I just heard on CNN that the pieces will be placed in his coffin.

[This message has been edited by Heather (edited 04-05-2005).]

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iconnumber posted 04-05-2005 10:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The New York Times today reported that the hammer test is no longer used. In the words of one of the Cardinals, "We have other methods today."


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iconnumber posted 04-05-2005 11:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for blakstone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder if it is the same silver hammer which the pontiff used to strike the door of St. Peter's basilica on New Year's 2000 to usher in the bimillenium?

And the NYT not withstanding, the Camerlengo, whose responsibility it is to perform the ancient hammer ritual, is a Spaniard, so I feel confident that he dutifully performed it while no one was looking. wink

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