Canonical coronation

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A canonical coronation (Latin: coronatio canonica) is a pious institutional act of the Supreme Pontiff, duly expressed in a Papal bull[1][2] in which a Papal legate or Papal nuncio designates a crown, tiara, or stellar halo[3] to a Christological, Marian, or Josephian image with a specific devotional title that is venerated in a particular diocese or locality.[4][5]

Previously, the Holy Office issued the authorization of a canonical coronation through a dicastery called the "Vatican Chapter", and later the Sacred Congregation of Rites was assigned this duty. Since 1989, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments executes the act that the decree authorizes.


The canonical coronation that Pope Pius XII authorized for the icon of Salus Populi Romani in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, 11 October 1954.

The custom of crowning holy images originated with the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, who through their evangelical missionaries collected great quantities of jewelry associated with indulgences, which funded the golden crowns or accessories for images of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A Capuchin friar, Girolamo Paolucci di Forli (1552-1620) was a major advocate for this practice, and was known during his life as the self-proclaimed "Apostle of the Blessed Lady".

In addition, when the Marquis of Piacenza and Count of Borgonovo, Alessandro Sforza Cesarini died, he bequeathed in his will and testament of 3 July 1636 a large sum of money to be invested to purchase crowns of precious metals for the coronation of the most celebrated Marian images in the world.[6]

The practice and public declaration of coronation became widely popular in the Papal states prior to 1800, and approximately 300 coronation rites were performed. On 29 March 1897, an official rite was included in the Roman Pontifical, for which a plenary indulgence was also conceded to the faithful who participated in such rites.[7]

  • The first Marian image that was crowned without direct Papal approbation was performed by Cardinal Pietro Sforza Pallavicino to La Madonna della Oropa on 30 August 1620.
  • The first Marian image that was Pontificaly crowned was the painting of La Madonna della Febbre (Madonna of Fever) in the sacristy of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome on 27 May 1631, by Pope Urban VIII through the Vatican Chapter.
The Papal bull of Pope St. John Paul II of 1984 that canonically granted the image of Our Lady of Hope of Triana the Pontifical (Papal) right to wear a crown.

The solemn prescription of ritual to crown images is embedded in the "Ordo Coronandi Imaginem Beatae Mariae Virginis", published by the Holy Office on 25 May 1981. Prior to 1989, Papal bulls authorizing canonical coronations were subscribed manually on parchment. After 1989, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments began issuing the authorizations, and expressed the approbated devotional title of the image and authorizing a Papal legate to perform the coronation in behalf of the Supreme Pontiff.


  1. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Bulls and Briefs". 1 November 1908. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  2. ^ "Canonical Coronation of La Virgen de la Esperanza Macarena | Hermandad de la Macarena". Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  3. ^ "Address to members of the Vatican Chapter". Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "Mensaje con motivo del 50 aniversario de la coronación de la imagen de la Virgen del Camino (19 de octubre de 1980) - Juan Pablo II". 
  5. ^ "Radiomensaje a los fieles mexicanos con ocasión del 50 aniversario de la coronación canónica de la Virgen de Guadalupe (12 de octubre de 1945) - PIUS XII". 
  6. ^ Moroni, Gaetano (1842). Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri …. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  7. ^ Roman Ritual: Blessings, Praenotanda num. 28; ritual coronation of an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, nos. 10 and 14.
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