What is the Ring of the Fisherman? or also called the Fisherman’s Ring? and why fisherman?
This is because, Peter, the leader of the Apostles, whom our Popes are successors of, including our retiring Pope Benedict XVI, was once a fisherman at Lake Galilee in Israel. Then Jesus, our Lord, came and called him and his brother Andrew, to follow Him, and then He made Peter, a fisher of man, through His Church, which He entrusted to him to lead. This is why, the picture on the Fisherman’s Ring represents Peter as fisherman as seen in the image above. Also engraved is the regnal name of the Pope, Benedictus XVI in Latin.
This ring was used in the past to seal important Papal documents such as letters and most importantly papal bulls. The seal used was wax seal, in which hot wax was poured and the ring is pressed onto the hot wax while it is still hot, and therefore, the image engraved on the ring, will be reflected on the wax seal, signifying the legality of the documents and papal bulls published, with the authority of the Pope, as successor of St. Peter and leader of the Universal Church, one Church of Christ.
This ring, which symbolises the authority of the Pope, given to him at the Installation of the Pope (Papal Installation), is destroyed upon the Pope’s death, and in Pope Benedict XVI’s case, it will be destroyed after the sede vacante starts with a silver hammer in the presence of witnesses, to prevent any misuse of the Ring during the sede vacante to validate documents not released by the Pope.