The Tiaras of the Popes: Pope Gregory XIII (+1585)

Pope Gregory XIII was the immediate successor to Pope St. Pius V and he reigned as Roman pontiff during the years 1572-1585. In fact, it was he to whom we have to thank for the Gregorian calendar -- so named after him of course; a calendar which is still the predominant international standard, both civically and ecclesiastically, down to our own time. 

Originally a teacher of law, he taught some notable figures including the English cardinal, Reginald Pole, and the Milanese cardinal, St. Charles Borromeo. He also served for a time as the legate of King Philip II of Spain and was made a cardinal of Pius IV in the year 1565. 

Gregory XIII was dedicated to reform, coming at the time of the counter-reformation and he sought to implement the decrees of the Council of Trent.  He also sought to ensure that cardinals resided in their respective sees, became patron of a new Code of Canon Law,  established the Discalced Carmelites and gave official status to the Oratorians and was an important patron of the Jesuits in Rome. 

Many of our readers will have visited the famous gallery of maps that can be seen in the Vatican, and it is this pope who was responsible for that particular gallery. 

All of this is merely to set some context around the bear of this particular papal tiara, that of Pope Gregory XIII. It is, in fact, now the oldest surviving papal tiara known in existence -- regrettably, many were lost, destroyed or pillaged during the Napoleonic occupation of Rome at the very end of the 18th century.  Fortunately for us, this one at least managed to survive and one will see it has a rather different shape and decoration, appearing almost akin to a Russian imperial Easter egg. It is perhaps a good reminder that while the papal tiara has some common features through the history of its development, just as in the case of the other sacred arts, there was also room for artistic expression and variety as well. 

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