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Framing Symbols

September 01, 2002

Suzanne Muchnic's article on the Getty's reconstructed frame was fascinating, but her reference to "a wide-brimmed hat and a trio of swords" merits elaboration because it involves specifics of church history ("The Frame of a Lifetime," Aug. 25).

The "trio" is actually one sword, a bishop's crosier and a two-barred Episcopal cross, both of which were used in the liturgical functions of the sitter. The "hat" is actually an armorial device used in coats-of-arms of bishops and cardinals to this day. The number of tassels indicates the status of the cleric: Archbishops have more than bishops; cardinals more than all.

THOMAS HOGAN

Long Beach

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