A new pope gets a new ring, the Ring of the Fisherman also known as the Piscatory Ring.
Although the conclave is still locked away in contemplation in the Sistine Chapel master goldsmith Claudio Franchi, the man who made the ring for Benedict is in a unique position to explain the symbolism:
“According to ancient ritual, described in history going back to the 13th Century, the ring is used as a seal to stamp official documents. After a serving pope dies the ring is destroyed with a silver hammer by the Camerlengo in front of the Cardinals in order to avoid forgery. For Benedict the ring was a symbol not a seal.”
Tradition dictates the ring features St Peter fishing from a boat and the Latin name of the reigning pope in raised lettering.
The faithful show their respect and love for the pope and God by kneeling at his feet and kissing the Fisherman’s Ring.
Benedict’s ring was not destroyed but marked with an X and sent to the Vatican Museum.