Pius X: A Ceremonial Mace with Coat of Arms of the Pope
About the Mace Featured Here:
A ceremonial mace is a highly ornamented staff of metal or wood, carried, in Catholic ceremonies (or in secular, civic ceremonies) by a mace-bearer or, in Italian, by the papal mazzieri. It was intended to represent the official’s authority. The mace was originally used as a tool to push crowds away from the pope.
Processions often feature maces, as in parliamentary or in formal academic occasions.
Though not limited to the Catholic Church maces used to be carried before cardinals and popes in papal ceremonies until the papal court was dissolved by Pope Paul VI on March 28, 1968, through a formal letter known as a motu proprio.
From Saint Peter and the Vatican, The Legacy of the Popes, page 340: Mace of the Mace-Bearer
The papal mazzieri, or mace-beareres, took their name from the wrought-silver mace carved with the bearings of the pope who had appointed them. The mace-bearers, usually nine in number, were chosen from among those close to the pope and were constituted into a college headed by a deacon. They were at the service of the Cappella Pontificia and answered to the master of ceremonies. Their origins may go back to the ancient servientes armorum, a security corps created by the Roman popes to ensure their safety and to serve as custodians of the apostolic palaces. While papal ceremonies were taking place, the mace was carried high on the right shoulder, resting in the palm of the right hand; when not in use it was tilted downward under the left arm. Two of the mace-bearers were appointed to the honorary role of attending the episcopal consecrations held in Rome, and they headed the procession, leading the newly elected bishop through the church while the “Te Deum” was being sung.
The mace-bearers’ costume consisted of black livery bordered with black velvet and a purple soprana trimmed with lace work; from their shoulders hung fake sleeves of cloth or twill; another piece of velvet garnished the headdress and a sword hung at their flank. Various other costumes, as can be seen in these pictures, were variations on the black, traditional ones.
The duties and category of the mace-bearers were abolished in 1968 by Paul VI as part of widespread changes to the Casa Pontificia.
This particular mace is made of silver and bears the coat of arms of Pius X. The head of the mace is a flattened sphere, with circular embossed indentations and downward-curving leaves; the lower part of the head is vase-shaped. The shaft has two rings and is embellished with finely chiseled leaves and whorls; the lower section is gilded and ends in an inverted bell shape.
This mace was used during the pontificate of Pope Saint Pius X. It is an incredible and rare addition to this Collection, made even more so because of the canonization of Pius X.
Note: The video featured below shows Pope John XXIII being carried on the throne, the sedia gestatoria, and if you look closely in the beginning of the video you can see the mazzieri surrounding him, carrying their maces. It is a glimpse of them in their work as protectors of the Pope during a ceremonial occasion.