The crossed keys in the coat of arms of the Holy See symbolise the keys of heaven entrusted to Simon Peter. The keys are gold and silver to represent the power of loosing and binding. The gold key alludes to the power in the kingdom of the heavens and the silver key indicates the spiritual authority of the papacy on earth. The cord with the bows that unites the grips alludes to the bond between the two powers. The triple crown (the tiara) represents the pope's three functions as "supreme pastor", "supreme teacher" and "supreme priest". The gold cross on a monde (globe) surmounting the tiara symbolizes the sovereignty of Jesus.
The keys of heaven or keys of Saint Peter are seen as a symbol of papal authority: "Behold he [Peter] received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the power of binding and loosing is committed to him, the care of the whole Church and its government is given to him [cura ei totius Ecclesiae et principatus committitur (Epist., lib. V, ep. xx, in P.L., LXXVII, 745)]".
Saint Peter is often depicted in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox paintings and other artwork as holding a key or a set of keys. The general layout of St Peter's Basilica also is roughly key-shaped; evocative of the keys entrusted to Saint Peter. Since the 16th century a symbolical pair of keys is created for every pope and buried on death with him.