Fisherman's Ring

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The gold ring that holds the pope's private seal; it is so called because on it St. Peter is depicted fishing from a boat, the name of the reigning pope being around the edge. Although several of the Apostles were fishermen, Peter was the leader of those whom Christ called to be fishers of men (Lk 5.10). The earliest mention of the fisherman's ring is in a letter of Clement IV to his nephew in 1265; he says that popes sealed their private letters with the seal of the fisherman, whereas public papal documents were sealed with leaden bulls. From the 15th century the fisherman's ring has been used to seal the class of official documents called briefs. At the death of a pope the cardinal camerlengo destroys his fisherman's ring and on the election of a new pope places a new ring on his finger.

[b. forshaw]