Croziers - not fit for purpose?

I was browsing images of croziers, as you do, and noticed their almost universal uselessness for their original symbolic purpose - catching the leg of a straying member of the flock. A shepherd’s crook has an open hook at the end. A closed hook won’t catch anything. And then I saw that in at least one area a crozier has been made in extraordinary form. Will this catch on?

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If anything it looks rather cumbersome. Still, in places where there are no sheep the original symbolism is meaningless - hence some other symbol is required like in the Diocese of Rarotonga (Cook Islands) where the Bishop’s Pastoral Staff is a paddle - symbolising his role in guiding the “diocesan canoe”


With all due respect, that’s weird and anomalous. If every diocese made up its own “crosier” symbolism, then all symbolism would be lost.


The symbolism is perfectly apparent to those in the diocese - there’s no sense in having a symbol just for the sake of having it if it has no meaning from the point of view of those it’s intended for. This is where inculturation comes into play and, indeed, is so important. Symbols which make perfect sense in Western Europe might not make any sense at all in other places - quite possibly for this reason, some Eastern Rite bishops don’t use a crook-shaped pastoral staff (the word “crosier” isn’t actually used in the Ceremonial of Bishops).


Naturally, of course!

I think the keyword is “symbolic.” I find Bishop Brennan’s crosier very interesting, but I think the symbolic outweighs the practical in this case. On the other hand, making your crosier a literal shepherd’s staff might help remind people of what that symbolic importance actually is.

Vestments are very similar in this regard. Once, they were everyday articles of clothing, but they developed into something symbolic.


The article talked about the crozier which the new Bishop of Charleston has as being simple, and made of unadorned wood. But it is big and conspicuous, although I’m not sure why.

As far as the symbolism goes, the bishop is also useless for the crozier’s original purpose. I doubt that a bishop would have any chance of successfully using a crozier to retrieve a stray sheep from over a rocky cliff.

Today, in the US, everyone knows what a bishop is supposed to do. So I’m not sure the symbolism from a crozier is necessary. Most Catholics probably don’t even know what a crozier symbolizes anyway. And if they were to be told that it’s a shepherd’s staff they would still probably have no idea that it was a tool. Point being, the symbolism is pretty much lost on most people.

If it needs to serve a purpose still today it can be a reminder to the bishop of what his job is. At that point, any adornments would seem to be a sign of cluelessness. So maybe the new bishop of Charleston will be better than the last one.

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I think many Christians don’t realise how robust shepherding is. Here’s a video of a not-black-belt level crook wielder:

Yes, here too in Australia I can’t imagine that many would associate a crook with shepherding. Most Australians would probably think of a pair of shears or Koolies (a breed of herd dog) when discussing sheep. Then again, I’m not sure if liturgical shears or a liturgical dog would be that helpful or reverent for the Australian Church.


The symbolism would be lost for a culture that has no relation to shepherding whatsoever as well. The Cook Islands is one such culture; there have not been any pastoralism or livestock on the islands. ”A shepherd who guids his flock” simply doesn’t mean anything in that context.

Actually the first bishops were fishermen, so should really be using fishing rods :wink: However I think, the first Crozier’s were probably staffs to help them walking from place to place and only later adopted the Shepard symbolism.

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Correct me if I am wrong, but I’ve never known the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) to use a ctozier, but simply a staff topped.with a cross.

According to Professor Wikipedia:

Traditionally, the popes did not use any ferula , crosier, or pastoral staff as part of the papal liturgy. The use of a staff is not mentioned in descriptions of Papal Masses in the Ordines Romani (Roman Ordinals). In the early days of the church, a crosier was carried on some occasions by the pope, but this practice disappeared by the time of Pope_Innocent_III Innocent III noted in his De Sacro altaris mysterio (“Concerning the Sacred Mystery of the Altar,” I, 62): “The Roman Pontiff does not use the shepherd’s staff.” The reason was that a crosier is often given by the metropolitan archbishop (or by another bishop) to a newly elected bishop during his investiture. In contrast, the pope does not receive investiture from another bishop and is invested with the pallium during his coronation or inauguration.

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:smile: I thought it was something from the 23rd Psalm (your crook and your staff).

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Very good. Better hope they don’t end up with Crooked Staffs lol

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Just give the bishop a giant cane, Gong Show style, so he can yank anyone straying from the faith back into the group, or off the stage.

It seems the crozier-making hobby is a thing:

Wooden croziers must be trendy.

I personally always wonder what happens to the bishop’s old croziers when they retire. I know some of that stuff like rings, pectoral crosses, and croziers ends up in the Diocesan archive because a nearby diocese trotted it all out for a display for a milestone diocesan anniversary. But I always wondered if some of the stuff was re-sold or lent out to other bishops, especially since it’s not uncommon for a bishop to get multiples of these things as gifts.

Actually, no. There would simply be a multiplicity of symbols, as a symbol is something which rep[resents something else. And one diocese using a different symbol, which likely has more meaning to the people of that diocese is hardly likely to start a multiplicity of dioceses creating different symbols than a shepherd’s crook.

The whole world is not middle eastern, nor is it European. Using a paddle which has far deeper meaning to their history than sheep is appropriate. To indicate otherwise is to impliedly say “Your culture is wrong, and you have to adopt to a completely different culture or you are not truly Catholic.”

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love the dog!

We have an assistant bishop who was in the military before he entered seminary. I suspect that if he has hold of a good stout crosier, he could use it like a pugli stick and be a formidable opponent.

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