The Belgian Tiara is one of the most unusual Papal Tiaras in existence, largely due to its design.
The tiara was donated by the Ladies of the Royal Court of the King of the Belgians on June 18, 1871 to Pope Pius IX (Pio Nono). Though the reason for its submission is not known, its donation may have been an act of support from the fiercely Catholic Belgian court following Pope Pius's loss of the Papal States one year earlier, in 1870.
The unique tiara was designed by Jean-Baptiste Bethune of Ghent. While following the traditional cone shape of papal tiaras, its upright golden crowns create an external shape that differs from that of most tiaras. Unlike most tiaras it also contained writing, with the words CHRISTI VICARIO — IN TERRA — REGUM spread over the three crowns.
It is not known if this unique tiara in the Papal Collection was ever actually worn. Pius IX received six tiaras during his reign. By the 1870s his declining health led him to opt for lightweight tiaras; he had one made for himself later that decade. Later popes received many other tiaras, although none of them have worn a papal tiara since June 1963, when Pope Paul VI abandoned wearing his own tiara.
- Arthur, William (1873). The modern Jove; a review of the collected speeches of Pio Nono. Original from Oxford University: Hamilton, Adams & Co. p. 22.
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