Pope Paul III: A Gold Scudo with His Coat of Arms
Vatican ducats were coined in the papal mint from the year 1432. They were coins of Venetian origin that circulated with the florin, which was worth 6 shillings at that time. In 1531 the florin was succeeded by the “scudo,” a piece of French origin (écu) that remained the monetary unit of the Papal States. Pope Paul III reigned from 1532 – 1549, the time frame corresponding to the minting of “scudos.”
These coins, depending upon the time of minting, were of different monetary value.
This particular scudo bears the coat of arms of Pope Paul III on the obverse side, with his name along the outside of the coin. The cross keys and tiara, symbol of the papacy are shown above the coat of arms.
On the reverse side is an image of St. Paul carrying a sword and a scroll with the words, “Paulus, Vessel of Election.” These are frequent depictions of St. Paul who wrote in Ephesians to, “put on the armor or God …. and take up…the sword of the spirit.”
The second reason why St. Paul often carries a sword is because of a long-standing tradition of depicting martyred saints with the instrument of their deaths. As St. Paul was a Roman citizen, he was not eligible to be crucified. Instead, St. Paul was decapitated with a sword outside of the walls of Rome.
So while St. Paul may not have been a fierce warrior, he was a “soldier of God,” fighting valiantly to spread the Kingdom of God on earth.