The Pope's Coat of Arms

Several details of Pope Francis’s coat of arms pay homage to his Jesuit roots.  The sunburst symbol of the Society of Jesus is prominently displayed on the blue shield.  The sunburst also signifies Jesus.  Beneath it, the star signifies Mary and the spikenard flower honors St. Joseph.

The Latin motto beneath the shield–“Miserando alque eligendo”–means “Having mercy, he called him.”  It is a reference to the account of Jesus calling the tax collector Matthew.  The motto refers to the call the pope felt to enter the Jesuits, which occurred on the feast of St. Matthew when Jorge Bergoglio was 17 years old.

UPDATE: For more on this, see “Is the Pope Still a Jesuit?” from America magazine.

Previous articleJoy Is the Surest Sign
Next articleFalling in Love
Jim Manney
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is What Matters Most and Why. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  1. The coat of arms (Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Pope) all say ‘come follow me’. (Though I am a sinner). Can I/Do I/Will I?
    (Useful meditation icon).

  2. We can translate the pope’s motto into Jesuit-speak. The 32nd congregation GC in decree 2 defines a Jesuit thus: “It is to know that one is a sinner, yet called to be a companion of Jesus as Ignatius was.

  3. Thank you for this explanation. I am overwhelmed that our Pope felt the call to the Jesuits at the age of seventeen. I can’t imagine how he feels when he reflects on his life journey and where God has brought him today. The Church and the world are blessed by his presence.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here