Pope Francis concluded his trip to the United States last week and in honor of his visit we thought we’d take a look at the many chairs of the papacy. Each Pope has their own ideas of how to interpret the traditions passed down. These traditions have changed throughout the years and still being modified today. The chair is important in many Catholic’s minds as it represents the unity and teaching authority of the sitter. As well as the flow of the sanctuary being modeled after the chairs position. The following several chairs have all been used by the papacy and as we find them have quite a rich history.
The Sedia Gestatoria: Italian for “chair for carrying” this is a ceremonial throne on which Popes were carried on shoulders until the late 1970s. The richly covered arm chair has been modified and made new over the years and used for a wide variety of Papal ceremonies. The chair has been used for the coronation of a new pope, entrances to St. Peter’s as well as carrying the Blessed Sacrament publically. The throne has since been discontinued in 1978 by Pope John Paul II as it has been replaced by the motorized “Popemobile.” The antique Sedia Gestatoria can be found in the Lisbon Cathedral Museum for viewing.
Current Seating: Over the years most Popes have used a gold inlaid papal chair for their audiences and masses held in Vatican City. The throne includes detailed carving of cherubs and angels as well as a red velvet seat cushion. More recently Pope Francis, a Jesuit who took a vow of poverty, switched the chair out for a simpler wood frame creation. The new seat has a cream padded back and seat making in a comfortable sit for longer ceremonies.
Gifts from U.S. Visit: During his stay in the United States Pope Francis was give 2 separate chairs in New York City and Philadelphia. The first is a simple oak chair built by immigrant laborers. The chair has no ornate carvings and only a simple distinction in wood colors as decoration. Inmates in Philadelphia created a walnut throne for the Pope’s visit to Philly. The gift was given with Pope Francis visited the facility during his trip. Two small crosses and a coat of arms are the only decorations on the chair. The chair was used at a ceremony at the prison and is expected to return back to Rome with him.
Perhaps you’d like to follow in Pope Francis’s footsteps with a simple yet comfortable chairs for your fellowship hall or church. Our team at ChurchPlaza has you covered. We even carry Pulpit Chairs that coordinate with congregation chairs for Bishops and other clergy.