The tintinnabulum consists of a small gold bell within a golden frame crowned with the papal tiara and Keys of Heaven. If the Pope were to say Mass within the Basilica, the tintinnabulum would be used to lead the very special procession down the shrine's aisle. However, now these symbols are not stipulated in the 1989 Vatican directives.
In the Middle Ages it served the practical function of alerting the people of Rome to the approach of the Pope during papal processions.
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