Ring (in Investitures)
Ring (In Investitures).
A ring was anciently given to bishops on their consecration with these words: "Accipe annulum discretionis et honoris, fidei signum," etc. The ring was emblematical of his espousal to the Church, in imitation of the ancient ceremony of presenting a ring on the espousal of parties in marriage. It was called the ring of his espousals, annulus sponsalitius pronubus, and sometimes annulus palatii. The ring was formerly worn on the middle finger of the right hand, as indicative of silence and discretion in communicating the mysteries, in giving the benediction, but was shifted to the annular finger in celebrating mass. The ring is mentioned by the Councils of Orleans, 511; Rome, 610; fourth of Toledo, 633; Hincmar of Rheims, Isidore of Seville, and the sacramentaries of Gelasius and Gregory the Great, 590. These rings usually had monograms (sigloe), or engraved subjects, and were used as signets till the 11th century in official correspondence, and for sealing a neophyte's confession of faith, and, by pope Sergius's order (687-701), for sealing the font from the beginning of Lent to Easter eve in France and Spain. They were, in consequence, sometimes called church rings. Every bishop had also a jeweled pontifical ring. This ring represented fidelity to Christ; the duty of sealing and revealing; and, lastly, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The best rings of suffragans at their decease were the perquisite of the primate, and, in the vacancy of the archiepiscopal chair, of the crown. Priests, as friends only of the bridegroom, did not wear rings (Coleman, Christ. Antiq.; Walcott, Sacred Archceol. s.v.).