The Tiaras of the Popes: The Papier-Mâché Tiara of Pius VII

One of the more unique designs for the papal tiara that we have in our possession is that which was made for the crowning of Pope Pius VII' who reigned from 1800-1823. The reason it is unique in its design has nothing whatsoever to do with its particular shape or decoration, but rather the method of its construction. This is a tiara constructed of papier-mâché that has then been augmented with jewels that were donated for this purpose by local families at that time.

The reason for this unique method of construction relates to the accidents of history. As a result of the French revolutionary army's invasion of Italy and exile of Pope Pius VI, the conclave which elected his successor, Pius VII, was held in Venice within the Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio. 

San Giorgio, Venice

However, you might fairly ask, why not simply use one of the historical tiaras of a previous pope? Aside from the practical difficulties that would have been inevitably caused by the exile of the pope from Rome, on their occupation of Rome the invading French had pillaged all of the historical tiaras that were to be found within the treasuries of the Vatican, repurposing the precious metals and stones. As a result of this, no such tiaras were available for use in this papal election. With limited time and resource, and with necessity being the mother of invention, this rather noble and tasteful papier-mâché tiara was fashioned in preparation for the crowning of Pius VI's successor -- all of which took place within Venice. 
This tiara was apparently used on occasion as a cooler, lighter-weight alternative to the regular tiara by some successive popes.

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