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What is Pope Francis’ motto? What does his coat of arms represent?

BY The Editors

April 7-20, 2013 Issue | Posted 4/1/13 at 2:46 PM


Pope Francis kept the motto and coat of arms that he had as archbishop of Buenos Aires, EWTN News reported March 18.

The motto has "a particular meaning in the life and spiritual journey of the Pope," a March 18 statement from the Vatican Press Office said.

"On the feast of St. Matthew in 1953, the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio experienced at the age of 17 years old, in a very special way, the loving presence of God in his life.

"Following a confession, his heart was touched and (he) felt the descent of the mercy of God: that, with eyes of tender love, he was being called to the religious life, after the example of St. Ignatius of Loyola," the communiqué explained.

Francis’ motto, Miserando atque Eligendo ("Having had mercy, he called him") was inspired by St. Bede the Venerable’s commentary on Matthew’s Gospel, when Jesus saw Matthew the tax collector, "looked at him with love, and said, ‘Follow me.’"

The motto has also been translated as "Lowly but Chosen."

The Pope’s coat of arms is like the one he had in Buenos Aires, with the exception of the papal keys and the papal mitre crowning the image, as shown here.

The blue (for Mary) shield has a sun at the top, with the letters "IHS" in the middle, which represent the Society of Jesus as well as Christ. A star for Mary is in the lower left-hand corner. A nard flower, a symbol for St. Joseph, is in the lower right-hand corner.

Explained the Vatican, "By placing these images in his shield, the Pope wanted to express his particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph."

Have you always wondered about some aspect of the faith? Do you have a question about Pope Francis? If you do, email us your question at and look for the answer in an upcoming issue.