Canonical Coronation
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Canonical Coronation
Pope Benedict XVI placing a crown[a] on Our Lady of Lourdes for the plenary indulgence he attached for pilgrims of the World Day of the Sick. 11 February 2007. Saint Peter's Basilica.

A canonical coronation (Latin: coronatio canonica) is a pious institutional act of the Pope, duly expressed in a Papal Bull, in which he bestows an ornamental crown, diadem or halo to a Marian, Christological, or Josephian image or statue that is widely venerated in a particular diocese or locality.[1][2][3][4]

The formal act is generally carried out by a representing proxy of the Pope, a Papal legate, or on rare occasions by the Pontiff himself, by ceremonially attaching a crown, tiara, or stellar halo to the devotional image or statue.[5]

Originally, the Holy Office issued the authorisation of a canonical coronation through a dicastery, called the "Vatican Chapter". Subsequently until 1989, the Vatican's Sacred Congregation of Rites was assigned this duty. Since then, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments arranges to execute the ceremonial act which the decree authorizes.[6]


The Nursing Madonna an early "coronation" by friar Jeronimo (Girolamo) Paolucci di Calboldi di Forli on 27 May 1601.

The formal act of coronation towards Marian images began with the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins, who on their evangelising missions collected great quantities of jewellery associated with the practice of indulgences, which funded at the request of the faithful, the gold crowns or accessories for images of the Virgin Mary, mainly in Italy. A particular Capuchin friar, Jeronimo Paolucci di Calboldi di Forli (1552-1620), was a major advocate for this practice, and was known during his life as a self-proclaimed "Apostle of the Blessed Lady." After a simple homily, Forli crowned the Nursing Madonna, now enshrined in the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Steccata in the Italian city of Parma on 27 May 1601.[7]

Later, on 3 July 1636, the Marquis of Piacenza and Count of Borgonovo, Alessandro Sforza Cesarini died, having bequeathed in his will a large sum of money to the Vatican Chapter, for investment in the production of crowns of precious metals for the coronation of the most celebrated Marian images in the world. Funds from his bequest went towards the restoration of ''Madonna della Febbre'' now enshrined in the sacristy of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.[8]

Development of the rite

The famed Madonna della Febbre, first to be canonically crowned by Pope Urban VIII in 27 May 1631. The surrounding marble frame is a ciborium by Donatello - Sacristy of Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome
The 1984 Papal bull of Pope John Paul II which granted ecclesiastical licence to crown the image of Our Lady of Hope of Triana, Seville

The enactment of the rite of the coronation of a venerated image became widely popular in the Papal states prior to 1800, when 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.[9]

Enshrinement of the rite

An earlier reference to the coronation of Marian images is decreed in the 1973 Apostolic Brief "Pluries Decursu Temporis". The solemn rite of crowning images is contained in the "Ordo Coronandi Imaginem Beatae Mariae Virginis", published by the Holy Office on 25 May 1981. Prior to 1989, papal bulls authorising canonical coronations were inscribed manually on parchment. After 1989, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments began issuing the authorisations, thereby authorising a Papal legate to perform the coronation of the approved devotional image on behalf of the Pope.


  1. ^ The event was not a rite of Canonical coronation, nor a re-coronation of the image at the Rosary basilica.


  1. ^ "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".
  2. ^ "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".
  3. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Bulls and Briefs". 1 November 1908. Retrieved 2015.
  4. ^ "Canonical Coronation of La Virgen de la Esperanza Macarena | Hermandad de la Macarena". Retrieved 2015.
  5. ^ "Address to members of the Vatican Chapter". Retrieved 2015.
  6. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis 1973, "De Coronatione Imaginum Beatae Mariae Virginis"
    PLURIES DECURSU TEMPORIS factum est ut populus christianus, filiali devotione permotus, ardenter peteret et obtineret coronationem alicuius Imaginis Beata Virgo Mariae. Nam «Maria, per gratiam Dei post Filium prae omnibus angelis et hominibus exaltata, utpote sanctissima Dei Mater, quae mysteriis Christi interfuit, speciali cultu ab Ecclesia merito honoratur.» [Congregatione Oecumenicum Vaticanum Secundum II, Constatione Dogmatis Lumen gentium, numerorum # 66.] Illius consuetudinis testimonium permanet ritus in Pontificali Romano usitatus.
  7. ^ Juan Carrero Rodríguez [es] (2019). "11. Coronación Canónica". La Virgen de los Reyes (in Spanish). Spain: Editorial Almuzara, Colección Andalucía. ISBN 978-8418-0894-04.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Moroni, Gaetano (1842). Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri .... Retrieved 2015.
  9. ^ Roman Ritual: Blessings, Praenotanda num. 28; ritual coronation of an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, nos. 10 and 14.
  10. ^ Marian image named after a cult of devotion gained notoriety for having cured Malaria among devotees.

Further reading

  • Santoro, Nicholas Joseph (2011). Mary in Our Life: Atlas of the Names and Titles of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Their Place in Marian Devotion. iUniverse. ISBN 978-1-4620-4022-3.
  • Brie, Steve; Daggers, Jenny; Torevell, David, eds. (2009). Sacred Space: Interdisciplinary Perspectives within Contemporary Contexts. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4438-0642-8. See especially chapter 4, "Consumption, Sacred Places and Spaces in Profane contexts: A comparison between the UK and India" by Jan Brown, John Phillips and Vishwas Maheshwari which draws an analogy between traditional religious veneration and contemporary preoccupations with sport, shopping and film.
  • de Lubac, Henri. The Eternal Feminine: a study on a text by Teilhard de Chardin. Trans. René Hague. New York: Harper & Row, 1971. See pp. 125-6. de Lubac SJ upholds the view, first promoted by Teilhard de Chardin SJ, which states that the cult of Mary (devotion to, coronations etc.) is an essential corrective of the over-masculinisation of the Old Testament godhead in the person of Yaweh, and hence is the incarnation of the femininity of God.

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