UPDATE on the Pope’s new pastoral staff

A reader posted a comment about the new pastoral staff, which we discussed in the entry on the Holy Father’s Palm Sunday Mass.

He pointed out that the staff used by Pope John Paul II, and also by Pope Benedict, is presently on tour in the the Vatican Splendors exhibit, which is moving around the world.

I suspect that this is the occasion Pope Benedict could use to make a change.  I don’t think we will see that older staff of John Paul II back during this Pontificate.  I wonder if the Holy Father will use just one staff now, or it he will perhaps mix them up a bit.  My guess is that this is the one.

But we shall see!


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  1. A.T.S. says:

    There were several copies of Pope John Paul II’s staff used during his pontificate (a lightweight version was made for him as he aged). I saw it on a tour of Vatican memorabilia that came to Florida while Pope John Paul II was yet living. So the fact that it is on tour does not necessarily mean it has been dispensed with.

  2. SMJ says:

    What you keep calling John Paul II’s “staff” is a “crosier.” It originally was made for Pope Paul VI.

  3. SMJ says:

    What you keep calling John Paul II\’s \”staff\” is a \”crosier.\” It originally was made for Pope Paul VI.

  4. SMJ: Yes, we know who it was made for.

    However, if I am not mistaken the word “crozier” is generally applied to those staves which are on the model of the shepherd’s staff, or crook, rather than a Cross. 

    I may be a) splitting hairs, or b) wrong.  

    In know that there are all sorts of variations possible, but that was my general impression.

  5. For what it’s worth, I think Father’s “staff” is more appropriate/correct than “crozier”. Crozier does indeed imply shepherd’s crook/pastoral “staff”, and is thus a more precise word than “staff”. Alas, the Johapauline “staff” is not exactly a “crozier”.

  6. Kradcliffe says:

    Call me crazy, but I liked JPII’s staff. It’s something I associate with him and his personal piety and holiness. For Pope Benedict to use it just seemed to be a way of letting people know that there’s continuity from one Papacy to the next. We’d grown so accustomed to seeing JPII (I don’t remember any other Pope) that it was reassuring to see that familiar symbol. I have seen some negative comments on some Traditionalist message boards that really disparage it, and I assume that that is either due to a distaste for the style or a resentment towards JPII.

    I guess maybe it’s time for Benedict XVI to choose his own, after giving us time to adjust? Maybe my attitude isn’t correct, but I suppose there are a lot of people like me. We aren’t all well-versed in coats-of-arms and the history of vestments, so much of that goes right over my head. I assume it is a message aimed primarily at clergy? Something like carrying JPII’s staff, however, even *I* can appreciate.

  7. TJM says:

    Call me catty, but I kind of laughed when you mentioned that the Staff/Crozier was touring with “Vatican Splendors.” Although I greatly respect the
    popes who used the Staff, a splendor it is not. Tom

  8. gjoe says:

    Kradcliffe, I understand where you’re coming from. The symbolism of the weight is beautiful.

    But symbolism aside don’t you think it looks kind of tired and sad? Maybe that’s another layer of symbolism to explore, but it just looks like it’s unhappy all the time. :-(

  9. Emilio says:

    Then can’t the Holy Father also put his new pallium on tour too?! …and return to the other, more familiar style for the past few centuries? The Holy Father seems to be wearing more traditional chasubles now that there is a new MC, and it would seem to me that the other pallium would be a better fit.

  10. Kradcliffe says:

    It looked beautiful when JPII held it. But, one of the fantastic things about Catholicism is there are so many modes of expressing all the different layers of our Faith. There are in our history triumpant Crucifixes and sorrowful ones. Neither is the only correct version, of course. So, I like the idea of shifting the focus when the Holy Father feels it’s appropriate.

  11. David Kubiak says:

    This cross is called a ‘ferula’.

  12. Gustavo Ráez-Patiño says:

    I am beginning to see a pattern in the appearance of papal vestments and accessories under Marini II: for example, wasn’t there a rumour that Benedict XVI would use a traditional papal cross for the Urbi et Orbi blessing on Christmas last year? And then he appeared with the same old JPII staff. And now, 3 months later, a traditional papal cross actually appears when nobody expected it. In turn, there were some rumours that for this Palm Sunday there would be red vestments with the style of Pope Leo X Medici. They didn’t appear. Couldn’t it be that, as the staff, they were just delayed to another ceremony (maybe Pentecost or St. Peter and St. Paul)?

    Remember that many things began to appear slowly and one at a time with Don Guido: the papal thrones, the seventh altar candle, the Cardinal-deacons, etc.

  13. J Basil Damukaitis says:

    I may be one of the few who are not thrilled with it. IT is a beautiful design but proportionately too large. It looks like he’s mugged a subdeacon for the processional cross. I wish it were a bit smaller.

  14. Andrew says:

    There is more than one staff. Pope Benedict XVI has been seen with the “crooked crucifix” styled staff since the exhibition started.

    I like his reaching back for tradition but the “crooked crucifix” has been used by three popes now as well. The rosary that I carry with me every day has a replica of that crucifix and it serves as a reminder of the Holy Father every time I start my rosary.

    What I don’t like about the one used Palm Sunday is the abscence of a corpus. I hope whatever staff he decides to use the most has Christ easily seen on it.

  15. Fr Martin Fox says:

    I liked the staff associated with John Paul II. I don’t mind that others didn’t like it. But the carping and nastiness about it, by some who offer themselves as “traditional,” is yet one more thing that leaves this cassock-wearing, Latin-praying, tradition-loving priest wanting to avoid these so-called “traditionalists.” I am sorry some of you are so tied up in knots, and I feel compassion–but some of you just need to do some profound soul-searching.

  16. Habemus Papam says:

    The “new” Staff is solid and has a permanence about it, I hope the Pope keeps it. The “crooked staff” has an assossiation with the declining years of Paul VI, a bad time for the Church. When it was picked up so to speak by John Paul II it had a fresh vigour for a while but now, I agree it looks tired. And dated.

  17. I believe that most people who criticized JPII’s crosier just wanted more ammunition for their complaints about him. All that aside, there is nothing earth-shattering about a succeeding Pope wanting a different one more to his own liking. Maybe we only see it now because he had so many catalogs through which to look, and then it was on back-order.

    On the latter point, I’ve also heard that’s been common with custom-made traditional vestments lately. Hmmm…

  18. Kradcliffe says:

    Father Fox, thank you for your comment. You’re not the only “Tradition-loving Catholic” who is turned off by the negativity of *some* Catholics. Thank you for your work, Father. God Bless you and all priests.

  19. Scott Smith says:

    Crook and Crosier…is there a difference?

    Is a Crosier a crossed staff, whereas a crook is of the shape of a shepherd’s staff?

  20. Pistor says:

    I forsee His Holiness using different staffs, just as he varies his pectoral crosses.
    Question…It’s neither here nor there but isn’t there more than one version of the JPII/Paul VI Staff. I recall hearing of a lighter one that was made for JPII.

  21. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Thank goodness that Salvador Dali style ferula is finally gone. It did not match the more splendorous attire of Benedict XVI, and it intruded a modernistic death-of-objective-reality symbolism into papal ceremonies.

    The staff Benedict XVI is now using has a classical look to it. I would have thought the he would have preferred a more elaborate design. No matter: the improvement is huge. It is also symbolic, I think. It suggests that the Pope is moving slowly and by degrees to restore tradition.

    Recently, by the way, I saw a re-rendering of the Pope’s arms with that scandalous Anglican mitre replaced by the tiara. It was for his Brazilian trip. I have no idea if this signals an official change or if it was only the something done by an individual on his own authority. I do know that the perpetrator of the Pope’s present arms has been kicked upstairs. But I have not seen any official acknowledgement of a correction to the present arms. Something to pray on.

    I am not convinced that the Pope gave consideration to the armorial change or the dropping of the title ‘Patriarch of the West’. These mistakes might have been actions of the old J.P. II curia, and they may very well be reversed.


  22. TJM says:

    I must be missing something here. Because people like me do not like this “staff” somehow a few of the commentators, including clerical ones, assume
    we’re are being negative. That’s a pretty stunning leap in logic. It’s no different from my not liking “tie-dye” vestments. I guess I should assume
    then, if these same commentators like this “staff” then they must adore the “tie-dyes” as well. If one thinks this staff radiates “splendor” they have a very different sense of aesthetics than I do. Lastly, I don’t fault John Paul II from using this “staff” because it was placed in his hands by the former master of papal ceremonies, the same guy who vested him in tie-dyes. I think I’m owed an apology. Tom

  23. Habemus Papam says:

    Fr.Fox: I think dislike for the JPII Staff might be based on those stories, right or wrong, that Satanists had used a similar style crucifix. It was certainly very different to what we were used to. Theres a profound feeling now, and I think this is where Pope Benedict is coming from, that we need to get back to John XXIII ans his Council, reasses and as much as is possible “start again” from there. I do see in this changes of style a desire to wipe clean the slate of the past 40 years.

  24. Garrett says:

    The twisted, artsy, unrealistic corpus on the “JPII ferula” was cause for concern among many traditionalists.

  25. Thomas says:

    As for the comments at the top, it is most definitely not a crozier. The crosier symbolizes (among other things) a bishop’s authority in his own diocese. The Pope does not carry a crosier, but rather an Apostolic cross, because his authority is universal.

  26. Dove says:

    Here is a photo of jpIIcarrying the traditional three-barred papal
    cross when opening the Holy Door at St Peter’s


  27. Fr Martin Fox says:

    I should make clear, I’m sorry, I was not reacting to statements made on this thread, but to statements I have seen plenty of prior to this. Not to fault Fr. Z, but yes, I have seen them on this site–which is why I thought my comment was appropriate. But insofar as I gave the impression anyone in this thread had made inappropriate comments, I apologize for that. For those who have, on other occasions, my comments stand.

  28. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Dear Dove:

    Thank you for that wonderful picture of Pope John Paul II with the patriarchal ferula. I have never seen such a picture. That is how I prefer to remember him. He looks younger in this picture. Do you know what year this is from?


  29. Different says:


    You are correct, it’s the Holy Father when he was young. It is him opening the Holy Door in 1983 when he was a very young 63 years old.

  30. Prof. Basto says:

    This is from the Extraordinary Jubilee of the Redemption (Holy Year 1983-1984, commemorating the 1950th anniversary of the Sacrifice of the Calvary, and also, of course, the 1950th anniversary of the institution of the Eucharist and Priesthood, of Pentecost, of Christ’s Ressurection and subsequent Ascention into the Heavens, etc.)

    This extraordinary jubilee was indicted by the Apostolic Letter sub plumbo datae (that is, Papal Bull) Aperite Portas Redemptori issued on January 6th, 1983. It began on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of that year (25th of March, 1983), ending on the following year’s Easter Sunday (April 22nd, 1984).

    The pope used this ferula for the Opening of the Holy Door cerimony, marking the start of the jubilar year.

  31. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Thank you, Different and Prof. Basto, for the references. The Pope looks so vigorous in the photograph. His medical ailments dragged on for such a long time and I had almost forgotten his earlier appearance. I wonder if that patriarchal ferula has been used much since then?


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