Thursday, March 27, 2008

The glorious sedia gestatoria...!


From the museum at the Lateran Palace here we see a sedia gestatoria, one of many which were used to carry the Popes until 1978.
When one sees it in the museum one can almost (almost!) hear the signature theme music from Patton.
As a layman who was still in the womb of my mother the last time this chair was used, I think of all the times I've felt frustrated while at Papal events only because I simply could not see the Pope at all during the processions...and to think that this simple chair is the answer to that problem!

7 comments:

TJB said...

Great photo, I've never seen one that clearly before. It looks like the foot rest opens up to a hidden compartment... perhaps for storing the Tiara, (now also confined to museums.)?

Anonymous said...

When not warn the crown was carried in procession and placed on the altar.

PeterHWright said...

Good !

JP cites a practical reason for the use of the sedia gestatoria.

It enables vast crowds of people to see the Pope.
I remember this was the very reason given for its use at the General Audiences of Paul VI.

And think how useful the sedia gestatoria could have been to John Paul II as his health and mobility declined.

Anonymous said...

I have read rumors that the Sedia will be returned to use by Benedict XVI.
He has returned so many elements of Papal vesture and tradition, it is only logical to return this, which is practical as well as impressive.
John Paul I , who reigned for 33 days, actually was the first to discard it...for no other reason other than he was an extremely timid and shy man, and it was enormously embarassing for him to be carried for all to see. He didn't do it for radical liberal reasons etc. He was just mortified. That's ashame.
John Paul II did no resume toe Sedia for two reasons.
1). Out of respect for John Paul I, who originally didn't want to use it.
2). He was more of a "pressing the flesh, into the crowds" type of Pope. Also, he didn't have much affection for Catholic tradition anyway.
It is disappointing to go to a Papal Mass or audience, and not be able to see the Pope. For Benedict XVI to be carried down the central aisle either of St. Peters, or at an audience would be appreciated by all who come to see him. I always think Pius XII in old filmclips looked the best and most confortable in the Sedia.
I read that John XXIII didn't like the Sedia because the swaying of the chair as it processed made him slightly dizzy (motion sick), and he didn't like that feeling.
Paul VI didn't like it because he was terrified of it toppling over with him in it, or being pulled from it by crowds. --That did almost happen 1x.

Anonymous said...

JPI used the sedia. It was JPII who did not.

Anonymous said...

Given that the Holy Father has restored other traditional papal gears and traditions, most recently the Easter mozzetta, I think it's only a matter of time before we'll see the return of the Sedia chair in Papal ceremonies. Until then, keep praying everyone.

Maria said...

John, the reason you can't see above the crowds is that you're just too short. Those of us with a little extra height don't have this problem.