Papal Mantum of Pope Pius VII

Pope Pius VII reigned as Roman pontiff for the years 1800 to 1823. Pius VII was a monk of the Order of St. Benedict who was ordained a priest in 1765, consecrated a bishop in 1782 and made a cardinal three years later. In 1799 he was elected pope following a six month period of sede vacante. Pius VII's pontificate came during the tumultuous period of the French Revolution and, like his predecessor before him, for a period of five years between 1809-1814, he was imprisoned by the French revolutionary forces. Pius VII also oversaw the expansion of the church in America, approving the establishment of various new dioceses there  He also encouraged archeological excavations in Rome and sought to likewise encourage Rome as a centre of art and culture. 

While he is perhaps best known for the unique papier-mâché tiara that he was crowned with in Venice at his coronation Mass, if we wish to see a more substantive example of liturgical art associated with him we need only turn to this papal mantum which was made for his pontificate. 

The mantum in question is made red silk lamé, as is typical for the most precious vestments of this period, while the embroidery is done in an intricate style which is much more reminiscent of that which was seen in the later seventeenth or very early eighteenth centuries.  It is a truly stunning work, one no doubt intended to re-assert the dignity and prominence of the papacy in view of the shadow that had been cast upon it by the forces of the French Revolution. 

To put this vestment back into its liturgical context, I wanted to conclude by showing the following painting which depicts Pope Pius VII in the Sistine Chapel where he is shown wearing a white mantum. 

Ingres, Pius VII in the Sistine Chapel

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