This morning on NPR, they were talking about a ritual in which a senior cardinal taps the pope on the head with a silver hammer and inquires, “Art thou dead, or simply pining for the fijords?” or words to that effect.
Wikipedia says that this is hooey and was abolished some time ago.
Which is true? And why do I have the Beatles tune stuck in my head?
[nitpick] It should be Cardinal Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, since it won’t be the Pope wielding it. (However, if someone were to bonk me on the head with a silver hammer and then ask me if I were dead, I’d be inclined to snatch the thing out of their hands and give them a whallop with it.)
Well, you have to remember that at one time, there was a fear of people being buried alive, and it wouldn’t do to stick God’s right hand man in the ground before his time, so I’m sure that the idea of the hammer came about as a way to rule out the possibility that the Pope was merely in a deep state of unconsciousness (which was poorly understood for most of human history). The reason it’s silver is no doubt you wouldn’t want a “base” metal like iron or aluminum coming into contact with a man as holy as the Pope.
Presumably, they use more modern methods to determine if the Pope’s passed on, these days, and if they still do the silver hammer, it is merely ceremonial.
Your answer is appreciated, and yet I find it in part to be amusing. The pope is said to be the vicar of Christ, one who was flogged and nailed to a wooden cross, if you subscribe to the New Testament account of the matter, who spared not himself from shame and spitting. The type of metal makes a difference for the pope? :dubious:
It was assumed that if one was buried alive, he/she for sure went to hell because that person most likely cursed god for their fate. In fact, if something prevented a proper wake, the body couldn’t have a full christian burial.
And you can’t expect catholics to bonk the pope with a ball peen hammer, can you?