Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Before the Popemobile

In the Lateran Palace one can see some of the different ways that the "modern" Popes have travelled before the Popemobile.
Pope Sixtus V (1585-90) riding on horseback
as shown in a Lateran Palace fresco.
The sedan of Pope Pius IX (1846-1878)
The sedan of Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903)
The sedan of Pope John XXIII (1958-1963)

The immediate precursor to the popemobile was the sedia gestatoria. Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) was the last to use it regularly. Pope John Paul I objected to its use, but was convinced it was necessary for people to see him. Pope John Paul II refused to use it. This pictures includes the red uniform worn by the twelve palafrenieri (footmen) who carried the chair as well as one of the two flabella (fans of ostrich feathers) that were on either side of the Pope when was carried in state on the sedia gestatoria to or from the altar or audience chamber.

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