Episcopal ring on the hand of His Excellency, Bishop William McGrattan at St. Michael's Cathedral
Early Bishops, such as St. Augustine, sealed their letters with wax into which a signet ring was pressed. The Episcopal ring, in part, recalls this practice. It is associated with His Excellency’s Episcopal dignity, with the sealing of secrets, and most beautifully, with the mystical betrothal of the Bishop to the Holy Church. This is, so to speak, His Excellency’s wedding ring, marked with the Chi-Rho.
It is a traditional reverential gesture (and thus a thumb in the devil’s eye) to kneel on your left knee and kiss the Episcopal ring as a sign of respect for his office upon greeting or leaving a Bishop. Who could resist such a gloriously Catholic and delightfully counter-cultural practice?