Canonical Coronation

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The Canonical Coronation granted by Pope Pius XII for the icon of Salus Populi Romani on the Feast of Queenship of Mary, dated 11 October 1954. Basilica of St. Mary Major, Rome.

A Canonical Coronation (Latin: Coronatio Canonica) is a pious institutional act of the Pope, duly expressed through a Papal Bull[1][2] in which a Papal Legate or a Papal Nuncio designates a crown, tiara or stellar halo[3] towards a Marian or Christological image under a specific devotional title that is being venerated in a particular diocese or locality.

Previously, the authorization was issued directly from the Holy Office through a dicastery called the Vatican Chapter. Since 1989, the act has been carried out through the authorised decree by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The Mexican image of Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos, crowned in 1904 by Pope Saint Pius X.


See also: List of images with Canonical Coronation.

The earliest custom of crowning images dates back to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin who through their evangelical missionaries, collected massive amounts of jewelry in exchange for indulgences which would then fund the golden crowns or accessories of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Marquis of Piacenza and Count of Borgonovo (born in 1636), Alessandro Sforza Cesarini died, leaving in his will and testament a provision in which a large sum of money was to be invested to fund crowns of precious metals for the coronation of the most celebrated Marian images in the world.[4] The practice and public declaration of coronation became widely popular in the Papal states prior to the 19th century as growing to approximately 300 coronation rites. In 1897, an official rite was included in the edition of the Roman Pontifical which granted plenary indulgence for the faithful who participate in such acts.[5]

  • The very first Marian image crowned without a direct Papal approval was by Cardinal Pietro Sforza Pallavicino with La Madonna della Oropa in 30 August 1620.
  • The first Marian Pontifically crowned was the La Madonna della Febbre (Madonna of Fever) in 27 May 1631 by Pope Urban VIII through the Vatican Chapter.

The solemn prescription of ritual to crowning images is embedded in "Ordo Coronandi Imaginem Beatae Mariae Virginis" published by the Holy Office on 25 May 1981. Prior to 1989, papal bulls concerning the authorization of Canonical Coronations were handwritten on parchment. After 1989, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments began issuing the specific recognition to crown a religious image, spelling out its approved devotional title and authorizing Papal legate.

Regarding Christological images, only three images have merited an officially documented Papal blessing, the famed Infant Jesus of Prague of Czech Republic, the Santo Bambino of Aracoeli in Rome and the Santo Nino de Cebu of the Philippines.[6]


  1. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Bulls and Briefs". 1908-11-01. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  2. ^ "Canonical Coronation of La Virgen de la Esperanza Macarena | Hermandad de la Macarena". Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  3. ^ "Address to members of the Vatican Chapter". Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  4. ^ Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri ... - Gaetano Moroni - Google Books. 1842. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  5. ^ Roman Ritual: Blessings, Praenotanda núm.28; ritual coronation of an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, nos. 10 and 14
  6. ^ Brief historical notes, theological and legal on canonical coronation" by Juan Cristóbal - Sailing Jury.