What Will Happen to Pope Benedict’s Ring?

 What will happen to the Pope’s ring once he resigns?

I’m talking about the ring that every Pope wears on the third finger of his right hand, the one that every member of the faithful must kneel down and kiss as a sign of respect upon greeting him.

Called “Il Pescatorio” or the “Fisherman’s Ring,” it’s an official part of the Pope’s regalia.  It was passed down through the centuries to every successor to St. Peter the fisherman, the saint upon whose very bones the Vatican foundation is built.


When a Pope dies, the ring is ceremonially removed, and smashed in front of the College of Cardinals by the Camerlengo.  Following conclave, the new Pope is then presented a new gold ring, emblazoned with a personalized brand.

The reason that I’m so curious is that in my novel, The Race, set to be released in the Fall, a terrorist infiltrates the Vatican and removes the Pope’s ring, signifying a ceremonial, albeit tumultuous transition of power.  The intense scene is rife with potential ramifications.

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My question is:  Once Pope Benedict resigns his post, thereby transitioning to Pope Emeritus, what happens to his ring?  Does he continue to wear it, or will it be smashed in accordance with protocol?  Pope Benedict earned his ring once he became top dog, so should he retain it upon retirement? Granted, the new Pope will receive his own ring, but if the Pope Emeritus keeps his ring, will the faithful still continue to kneel before and kiss that one too?   

I’m sure the matter will be clarified sometime prior to the impending conclave, and most certainly thereafter.  In the meantime, whether you’re an expert or you just want to offer up a theory, I’d love to hear what you think…