A special banner hung at Castel Gandolfo

Pope Benedict stands under the antique banner, blessing pilgrims. (CNS/Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — To celebrate Pope Benedict XVI’s first general audience of the summer at Castel Gandolfo, the staff at the papal villa brought out a banner usually reserved for the town’s biggest feast days.

The banner features the traditional papal tiara, which Pope Benedict XVI chose not to include on his personal coat of arms. Instead, the pope’s seal features a bishop’s miter.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, said the banner is an antique treasure. It was donated to the papal villa by Blessed Pius IX (who died in 1878). Usually it is hung for the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, and in Castel Gandolfo on the feast of the Assumption Aug. 15 and on the Jan. 20 feast of St. Sebastian — the town’s patron.

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