The papal tiara is the crown worn by popes of the Catholic Church for centuries, until 1978 when Pope John Paul I declined a coronation, opting instead for an inauguration. The tiara is still used as a symbol of the papacy. It features on the coat of arms of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State, though not on the pope's personal coat of arms since Pope Benedict XVI replaced the tiara on his official coat of arms with a traditional bishop's mitre. A tiara is used to crown a statue of Saint Peter in St. Peter's Basilica every year on his feast day.[1]

Popes commissioned tiaras from jewelers or received them as gifts, with a number remaining in the possession of the Holy See. In 1798, French troops occupied Rome and stole or destroyed all but one of the papal tiaras held by the Holy See. Since then popes have used or received as gifts more than twenty tiaras. Several were never worn by a pope, notably those presented as gifts since the last papal coronation in 1963.

List of papal tiaras still in existence

List of papal tiaras
Name Year Notes
1 Tiara of Pope Gregory XIII 1572–1585 The oldest surviving, made by Cristoforo Foppa.[citation needed] Decoration originally included an emerald (404.5 carats) later incorporated in the Napoleon Tiara.[2]
2 Papier-mâché Tiara 1800 Made for the coronation of Pope Pius VII in exile in Venice following the seizure or destruction of papal tiaras by the French troops that invaded Rome in 1798. Decorated with jewels donated by local families. Worn as a lightweight alternative for decades.[3]
3 Napoleon Tiara 1804 Napoleon I gifted a tiara to Pope Pius VII, who presided at his coronation as emperor in December 1804. Manufactured by Henri Auguste and Marie-Etienne Nitot of the House of Chaumet, its decoration celebrated that coronation and the Concordat of 1801. Some of its jewels and decoration came from tiaras taken by the troops of the French Directory in 1798. It was purposely made too small and too heavy to be worn. It was later modified and worn by Pius IX at his coronation in 1846[4] and to open the First Vatican Council in 1868. It appears in Jacques-Louis David's 1807 painting The Coronation of Napoleon.[a]
4 Tiara of Pope Gregory XVI 1834 One of the most worn in the papal collection. Worn at times by Pius IX, Pius X and Pius XII.[6] Decorated with three golden circles inlaid with diamonds over the central silver core of the crown, and above each circle a series of golden cloverleaves, inlaid with jewels.
5 Tiara of Pope Gregory XVI 1845
6 Tiara of Pope Gregory XVI date unknown Lightweight version.
7 Tiara of Pope Pius IX 1846 Created in 1854. With 18,000 diamonds and 1,000 emeralds, sapphires and rubies. Loaned by the Vatican Museum for display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, May-October 2018.[7][8]
8 Spanish Tiara 1855 A gift from Queen Isabella II of Spain, weighing three pounds and topped with a single sapphire.[9][10] Decoration included 18,000 diamonds, pearls, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. Pope Pius IX sold it and donated the proceeds to charity.
9 Tiara of Pope Pius IX late 1850s A gift from the Congregation of Holy Cross. On permanent display in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
10 Belgian Tiara 1871 A gift to Pope Pius IX from the women of the Royal Court of the King of the Belgians made by Jean-Baptiste Bethune of Ghent.[11][12] Decorated with three layers of upright golden decoration inlaid with jewels, including gold, pearls, gilt silver, emeralds, other precious stones, and enamel work.
11 Tiara of Pope Pius IX 1870s Lightweight tiara.
12 Palatine Tiara 1877 A gift from the Palatine Guard to Pope Pius IX to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his consecration as a bishop. Relatively lightweight at two pounds, it was used at all later papal coronations until Pope Paul VI's in 1963.[13][14] Decorated with six rows of 90 pearls as well as 16 rubies, three emeralds, a hyacinth, an aquamarine, three rubies, a sapphire, and eight gold points with five garnets and two Balas rubies (first tier); 10 emeralds, 8 Balas rubies, one chrysolite, two aquamarines, six small rubies and three sapphires (second tier); 16 small Balas rubies, three larger Balas rubies, four sapphires, three hyacinths, three aquamarines, one garnet, eight gold floral ornaments each with two emeralds, one Balas ruby, a chrysolite and eight gold points, each adorned with a garnet (third tier). The crown is covered with a thin layer of gold, with eight rubies and eight emeralds, surmounted by a gold globe enameled in blue and topped by a cross composed of 11 brilliants.[15]
13 German Tiara 1887 A gift from Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany in commemoration of Pope Leo XIII's Golden Jubilee as a priest.[16] Decorated with 1,000 pearls.
14 Paris Tiara 1888 A gift from the Catholics of Paris to celebrate the golden jubilee of Pope Leo XIII's ordination as a priest. By Émile Froment-Meurice.[17] He had quashed a proposal by Lyon Catholics to raise funds for a tiara in 1878.[18]
15 Austrian Tiara 1894 A gift from Kaiser Franz Joseph I of Austria.[19]
16 Golden Tiara 1903 Presented by Cardinal Pietro Respighi on behalf of the world's Catholics to commemorate the Pope Leo XIII's silver jubilee as pope.[20][21]
17 Tiara of Pope Pius X 1908 Created by papal jewelers Tatani to commemorate the golden jubilee of the ordination of Pope Pius X as a priest. Made because the pope found other tiaras too heavy.
18 Tiara of Pope Pius XI 1922 A gift from the Archdiocese of Milan.[22] Inlaid with 2,000 precious stones.
19 Tiara of Pope John XXIII 1959 A gift to Pope John XXIII from the people of Bergamo, his home region, in honour of his election. Worn on occasion.[23]
20 Tiara of Pope Paul VI 1963 The last tiara worn at a papal coronation. Made by laboratories of Scuola Beato Angelico of Milan in a modern style with minimal ornament. Half the weight of the Palatine tiara of Pius IX used at coronations from 1877 to 1958. Now on permanent display in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.[24]
21 Tiara of Pope John Paul II 1981 Presented to Pope John Paul II by Catholics in Hungary.[25] Location unknown. Appears in a photograph of a medal said to be held in the Bayerisches Münzkontor.[26] Never worn.
22 Tiara of Pope Benedict XVI 2011 Presented to Benedict XVI on 25 May 2011 by a group of German Roman Catholics; created by Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Christians.[27] Never worn.
23 Tiara of Pope Francis 2016 Presented to Pope Francis on 16 May 2016 by the President of the Assembly of North Macedonia, Trajko Veljanovski. Made by the nuns of the monastery of Rajcica, with Ohrid pearl.[28] Never worn.


  1. ^ The tiara is held by someone standing just behind the pope. A sketch for the painting shows Count Rogari holding tiara.[5]


  1. ^ "Tiara" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 3 April 2001. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  2. ^ de la Garde Grissell, Hartwell (January–June 1896). "Replies: Vatican Eemerald". A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc. Eighth Series. 9. London: 9–10. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  3. ^ Marsden, Rhodri (21 March 2015). "Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: Pope Pius VII's paper crown". The Independent. London. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  4. ^ "Intelligence". The United States Catholic Magazine and Monthly Review. 5 (8): 454. August 1846. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Count Rogari Holding the Papal Tiara". Harvard Art Museums. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  6. ^ Saint-Pol, Michael (7 November 1958). "Triple Tiara Used In Ceremony Since 1878". The Catholic Northwest Progress. Vol. 61, no. 45. Seattle. p. 8. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  7. ^ "Select Images: Objects from The Vatican Collection". Metropolitan Museum of Art. Archived from the original on 2018-05-12. Retrieved 10 May 2018. (archive link)
  8. ^ "Tiara on loan from The Vatican". Australian Broadcasting Corporation News. 8 May 2018. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Ecclesiastical Immunities" (PDF). The New York Times. 9 February 1855. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  10. ^ "The Pope's Tiara". The Ladies' Repository. 24: 568. September 1864. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  11. ^ William, Arthur (1873). The modern Jove; a review of the collected speeches of Pio Nono. Hamilton, Adams & Co. p. 22.
  12. ^ "Image of Tiara of Pius IX". Royal Magazine. Retrieved 23 May 2022.[full citation needed]
  13. ^ Chico, Beverly (2013). Hats and Headwear around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia: A Cultural Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 446. ISBN 978-1-6106-9063-8. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  14. ^ Keller, Joseph Edward (1882). The Life and Acts of Pope Leo XIII. Benziger Brothers. p. 274. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  15. ^ "Papst Tiara". Royal Magazin (in German). Retrieved 5 January 2023.
  16. ^ "Golden Tiara". The Catholic Telegraph. Cincinnati. 26 February 1903. p. 1. Retrieved 23 May 2022 – via The Catholic News Archive.
  17. ^ "The Jubilee of Pope Leo XIII". The Tablet. 69 (2455): 859. 28 May 1887. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  18. ^ "Leo XIII and Peter's Pence" (PDF). The New York Times. 1 December 1878. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  19. ^ "The Pope Says Mass; Over 100,000 Persons Present in St. Peter's -- Many Pilgrims and Tourists". The New York Times. 19 February 1894. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  20. ^ "Pope Leo XIII's Jubilee" (PDF). The New York Times. 21 February 1903. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  21. ^ "Image of the Golden Tiara". University of Dayton. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011.[full citation needed]
  22. ^ Collins, Michael (15 August 2011). The Vatican: Secrets and Treasures of the Holy City. Penguin. p. 267. ISBN 978-0-7566-9182-0. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  23. ^ "La Tiara di Papa Giovanni XXIII" [The Tiara of Pope John XXIII]. Cattedrale di Bergamo (in Italian). Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  24. ^ Dugan, George (1 December 1964). "Spellman's Surprise: Pope's Tiara Is Here". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  25. ^ "New Tiara for the Pope" (PDF). Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  26. ^ Gedenkprägung Tiara Johannes Paul II
  27. ^ Kerr, David (May 25, 2011). "Germans present Pope Benedict with his own papal crown". Catholic News Agency.
  28. ^ Tornielli, Andrea (17 May 2016). "A Tiara for Every Pope". La Stampa. Turin. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
Additional sources