Monday, April 25, 2005

Tea and The Fisherman's Ring

In our time-honored family tradition, “the kids” were over for Sunday dinner yesterday. They will always be “the kids”, although one is a computer specialist studying for her degree in interior design and the other is an archaeologist who is considering becoming a firefighter.

Yes, they do possess widely varied interests. I’m glad those lessons (or were they lectures?) about not limiting themselves seem to have taken.

Our conversation over dessert drifted towards Pope Benedict XVI, which prompted a discussion about the Vatican as St. Peter’s burial ground. Somehow, we then found ourselves on the subject of the Ring of the Fisherman.

To avoid any chance of forgeries, a new ring is made for each pope. The dead pope’s ring is destroyed after his death in a ritual prior to the cardinals’ conclave to elect a new pontiff. This surprised my son, who had thought the ring was buried with the pope. The ring shows St. Peter fishing with a net from his boat, a visual depiction of the “Come, I will make you fishers of men” Gospel passage, with the new pope’s name encircling the image. It is used to mark papal briefs throughout his reign.

The past month has revealed marvelous new frontiers for family conversation. It’s gratifying to know that “the kids” can still occasionally learn something new from their old Mom.