Benedict XVI is the first Pope to relinquish the tiara as a symbol of power. In its place he uses a simple mitre with three gold horizontal stripes, representing the three powers of the papal office: Orders, Jurisdiction and Magisterium. The crossed keys are a reminder of the succession of popes in the service of Peter. New in the papal coat-of-arms is also the pallium decorated with red crosses.
The motifs on the shield already appeared in the coat-of-arms Joseph Ratzinger used as Archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982. The crowned Moor has been in the coat-of-arms of the Bishops of Freising for more than a thousand years. For Pope Benedict he is an ”expression of the universality of the Church, which knows no differences of race or of class, as we all 'are one' in Christ.” The bear carrying a pack is an attribute of Saint Corbinian, the patron saint of the archbishoprics of Munich and Freising. According to the legend a bear is supposed to have torn one of Bishop Corbinian´s pack-horses to pieces on his journey to Rome. As a punishment the bear had to carry the load and only when they arrived was it set free by the saint. As “God´s beast of burden” this bear symbolises the weight of office.
The Jacob´s shell refers to the pilgrim people of God whose shepherd Benedict XVI sees himself as. At the same time the shell refers to the Church Father, Augustine. According to the legend he was observing a child at play trying to ladle sea-water into a little hole with a shell. At this moment Augustine realised: “So little this hole can contain the sea-water, so little can my reason comprehend the mystery of God.”