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Pope Paul VI wearing Rational

Paul VI, the Catholic-Jewish Pontiff
One of the exclusive symbols of the Jewish high priest in the Old Testament was a kind of vest he wore over his vestments called the ephod. Over the ephod, he wore the rational of judgment, a gold breastplate inlaid with 12 precious stones, symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel (see a picture below second row). This symbology practically disappeared when the True Synagogue gave birth to the Catholic Church.

The false Synagogue, however, which denied Our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified Him and persecuted the Early Church, continued many rites of the Old Testament. In the year 70 Emperor Titus destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem and the Jewish high priest lost his function, which was to present sacrifices before the Ark of the Covenant sheltered inside the Temple. Henceforth, Judaism had different types of private sacrifices but no longer an official one, only conceivable in the Temple of Jerusalem.

Strangely enough, during his pontificate Paul VI started to wear a miniature of that Jewish rational, as a kind of brooch or buckle fastening a cord that fell between the two sides of one of his favorite stoles, which had the figure of St. Peter on one side and that of St. Paul on the other.

Much speculation has been raised about the meaning of the unprecedented use of that Jewish symbol on the papal stole, but no precise answer has been found. One remains free to suppose, therefore, that in a kind of semi-public manifestation, Paul VI wanted to add to his role of Pontiff of the Catholic Church, that of high priest of Judaism.
Popes wearing Rational


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Posted February 8, 2009

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