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Catholic Dictionary




A design impressed on wax or similar material. At first a seal was used for securing a document, but later it was attached to a document's face as a sign of validity. When authority passed to new hands, the old seal was destroyed an a new one made. This is why the Fisherman's ring, or papal seal, is immediately broken by the Cardinal Carmerlengo when the Pope dies. (Etym. Latin sigillum, seal, diminutive of signum, sign.)