Keys of Heaven

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The Emblem of the Papacy used by the Catholic Church

The Keys of Heaven refers to the image of crossed keys used in ecclesiastical heraldry, to represent the metaphorical keys of the office of Saint Peter, the keys of heaven, or the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.

In Catholicism[edit]

Saint Peter depicted (by Peter Paul Rubens) holding the Keys of Heaven.

According to Catholic teaching,[1] Jesus promised the keys to heaven to Saint Peter, empowering him to take binding actions.[2] In the Gospel of Matthew 16:19, Jesus says to Peter, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on Earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in heaven." Saint Peter is often depicted in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox paintings and other artwork as holding a key or a set of keys.

The keys of heaven or keys of Saint Peter are seen as a symbol of papal authority and are seen on papal coats of arms (those of individual popes) and those of the Holy See and Vatican City State: "Behold he [Peter] received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the power of binding and loosing is committed to him, the care of the whole Church and its government is given to him [cura ei totius Ecclesiae et principatus committitur (Epist., lib. V, ep. xx, in P.L., LXXVII, 745)]".[3]

Biblical sources[edit]

Bible verses associated with Peter[4][5] and his position of authority: Is. 22:20-23; Matt. 10:2; Matt. 16:18-19; Luke 22:32; John 21:17; Acts 2:14; Acts 10:46; Gal. 1:18.

Bible verses associated with the transfer of powers from Pope to Pope: Acts 1:20; 6:6; 13:3; 8:18; 9:17; 1 Tim. 4:14; 5:22; 2 Tim. 1:6.

Symbols depicting the Keys of Heaven[edit]

In Catholicism[edit]

Elsewhere[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The episcopal college and its head, the Pope (para 881)". Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican Archives.
  2. ^ Mannion, Gerard; Mudge, Lewis S., eds. (30 January 2008). The Routledge Companion to the Christian Church. p. 235. ISBN 978-0415374200.
  3. ^ Joyce, George (1911). "Power of the Keys". The Catholic Encyclopedia. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  4. ^ Joyce, George (1911). "Chronological Lists of Popes". The Catholic Encyclopedia. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  5. ^ Joyce, George (1911). "The Pope". The Catholic Encyclopedia. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 6 September 2017.

External links[edit]