EWTN Catholic Q&A
Question from Anne on 04-25-2005:


I noticed that Pope Benedict XVI is using the same crossier (sp?) as Pope John Paul II. Are the crossiers specific to each Pope like the Papal flag, or are they passed from Pope to Pope? Did anyone have this crossier before JPII?

Thank you.


Answer by Matthew Bunson on 05-03-2005:

The crucifix used by the Holy Father is technically his crozier, the shepherd staff that is the most senior ecclesiastical insignia of the bishop and represents his pastoral authority. As bishops and the shepherds of the Universal Church, the popes have used the crozier, but ceased doing so in the 11th century. Traditionally, the crozier traces its origins back all the way to the Apostles, and it is known to have been used in the traditional form by bishops(with an ornamental crook) from the time of Pope Celestine I (r. 422-432.

Pope Paul VI instituted a change upon his election. Rather than use a traditional crozier seen as a symbol of jurisdictional authority the pontiff adopted what was termed a pastoral staff. The staff was designed by Italian artist Lello Scorzelli in the shape of a crucifix. The staff was retained by both Popes John Paul I and John Paul II. In 1990, a new, slightly re-designed staff was presented to the pontiff in honor of his birthday. This staff is still in use today as seen with Pope Benedict. It will be entirely up to him as to whether he continues to use it.