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Ecclesiastical heraldry

Ecclesiastical heraldry is the tradition of heraldry developed by Christian clergy. Initially used to mark documents, ecclesiastical heraldry evolved as a system for identifying people and dioceses. It is most formalized within the Catholic Church, where most bishops, including the Pope, have a personal coat of arms. Clergy in Anglican, Lutheran, Eastern Catholic, and Orthodox churches follow similar customs, as do institutions such as schools and dioceses. Ecclesiastical heraldry differs notably from other heraldry in the use of special insignia around the shield to indicate rank in a church or denomination. The most prominent of these insignia is the low crowned, wide brimmed ecclesiastical hat, commonly the Roman galero. The color and ornamentation of this hat indicate rank. Cardinals are famous for the "red hat", but other offices and other churches have distinctive hat colors, such as black for ordinary clergy and green for bishops, customarily with a number of tassels increasing with rank. Other insignia include the processional cross, the mitre and the crosier. Eastern traditions favor the use of their own style of head gear and crosier, and the use of the mantle or cloak rather than the ecclesiastical hat. The motto and certain shapes of shields are more common in ecclesiastical heraldry, while supporters and crests are less common. The papal coat of arms has its own heraldic customs, primarily the Papal Tiara (or mitre), the keys of Saint Peter, and the ombrellino (umbrella). The current Pope Bened

ct XVI has had his tiara drawn more to resemble a mitre on his coat of arms. The arms of institutions have slightly different traditions, using the mitre and crozier more often than is found in personal arms, though there is a wide variation in uses by different churches. The arms used by organizations are called impersonal or corporate arms. Heraldry developed in medieval Europe from the late 11th century, originally as a system of personal badges of the warrior classes, which served, among other purposes, as identification on the battlefield. The same insignia were used on seals to identify documents. The earliest seals bore a likeness of the owner of the seal, with the shield and heraldic insignia included.[1] Over time, the seals were reduced to just the shield. The Church likewise identified the origin and ownership of documents and buildings with seals, which were typically a pointed oval called a vesica to distinguish from round seals in non-religious use.[2] Edward I of England decreed in 1307 that all legal documents required a seal.[3] These seals initially depicted a person, but as secular seals began to depict only a shield, clergy likewise used seals with heraldic insignia.[4] Personal seals of bishops and abbots continued to be used after their deaths, gradually becoming an impersonal seal.[5] Clergy tended to replace military devices with clerical devices. The shield was retained, but ecclesiastical hats often replaced helmets and coronets. In some religious arms a skull replaces the helmet.