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Monogrammatic cross

Shephard’s Crook

Modern Crozier

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The monogrammatic cross is composed of a (latin cross) or a È (square cross) and the letter P (rho). It is a version of the christogram. In most of the cases the  cypher is accompanied by the letters A and Ѡ. In any case the monogrammatic cross is not an equal variant of the christogram because they occur together  [1] The interpretation of the crosslet as a crux immissa (latin cross) or a  crux quadrata (square cross) does not result into a significant meaning in combination with the P (rho)  so that we have to accept that with the crosslet a tilted X is meant.

It should be agreed that the colossal statue of Constantine of the Basilica of Maxentius from the years of 313-315 kept in his right hand a monogrammatic cross by way of sceptre and thta is also the most ancient documentation of the monogrammatic crsos in connection with the military hierarchy. [2] Alas of this statue there no version known showing the monogrammatic cross.

The monogrammatic cross is described for the firt time by Lactantius, the teacher in Treves of Crispus, the oldest son of Constantine. He mentions for the years  314-315, the sign Constantine let write his soldiers on their shields with the words that Christum in scutis notat (The sign of Christ was written on the shield) and that the cæleste signum Dei (The celestial sign of God) of the dream consists of the transversa X littera summo capite circumflexo. [3] With the first we can imagine the christogram XP but with the second for sure also the combination ÈP. Perhaps these two cyphers had each their own meaning in the time of Constantine and later they also developed differently.

One can imagine that the combination ÈP with the clarification „transversa X littera summo capite circumflexo” had to mean “the Christ of God” and in fact is the cypher  ÈXP. [4] On this road we come to the meaning “Servant (= Christ, the anointed) of God.” Several fourth century representations are known on which this cypher is carried as a staff by the apostle Peter and for this reason can be connected with Peter, the defensor of Christ but not Christ himself. [5]

In this way the cypher ÈP indicates a lower rank than the christogram and could be the badge of rank of a function immediately following the one of Christ. Taking into account that Peter was the substitute of Chrsit  and first bishop of Rome this could be the emblem of a bishop (episcopus = supervisor) or the head of a province of the church. It hiwever looks like that the cypher initially had a military meaning in the first place which would imply that the bishops had also a military task. This would explain why the ÈP cypher is not only known from the West but also from Constantinople, the Near East and Africa. [6]

The cypher P or ÈP symbolizes the function of bishop.


Monogrammatic crosses and monogrammatic staffs are known from the 4t until the 7th century. The monogrammatic staff was then succeeded by a crozier of a different shape and came to resemble a shepard’s crook consisting of a long stick with a hook. This model was common until the 10th century in western Europe and was maintained somewhat longer in Ireland. In the tenth century, during the reign of Emperor Otto I (962-973) who was the instigator of the Renovatio Imperii  (Renovation of the Empire), the crozier became a long staff with a hook in the form of a spiral, soon represented rising from a knob and thus taking the shape of a misunderstood monogrammatic cross.

In the next centuries the crozier was rapidly developed by decorating the spiral abundantly, and reducing the number of its windings.  The knob dwindled in the process to disappear at last completely.


Bruno Bernhard Heim adds in his Heraldry in the Catholic Church (1979):


Together with the pallium the crozier probably belongs to the most ancient clerical emblems. Catalano says in his commentarie on the ancient Ceremonial of the bsihops, that the crozier was considered to be the emblem of episcopal jurisdiction from the 4th century; Isidore of Sevilla (560-636) also speaks of the crozier as being a symbol of the administrative authority of the bishops, but certainly some abbots have born a crozier since the 7th century.

Initially it served as a pilgrim’s staff or a walking stick for the preachers sent by the church to preach the gospels. Later the crozier became the characteristic mark of distinction for a high ranking priest.

Originally the croziers were made of wood or iron, later precious metals were used more and more. Hugues of St. Victor (1096-1141) and Sicard of Cremona (1155-1215) gave the following explanation of its form: curva trahit, recta regit, pars ultima pungit that is: the hook to pull, the stick to lead the point to spur on. The symbolism of the shephard’s crozier is expressed in short by the following verses:


Collige sustenta stimula

vaga, morbida, lenta [7]


i.e. collect the poor, wandering in the world (Collige vaga for ‘the hook’), rise the weak, the sick and the sinners (Sustenta morbida for ‘the stick’), spur the slow, the lazy and the negligents (stimula lenta for ‘the point’). Here for sure there is the life-program of a pastor.


In the latin rite for the episcopal inauguration the consecrating bishop used to say:

Accipe baculum pastoralis officii; ut sis in corrigendis vitii pie saeviens, juducium sine ira tenens, in fovendis virttutibus aufitorum animos demalcens, in tranquilliatate severitatis censuram non deserens. Amen.”


(Receive the staff of pastoral office and be fatherly severe in the taming of sin; exercise the administration of justice without resentment; warm up the souls of your auditors by praising the virtues but do not neglect the punishment in your  calm severity.)


The badge of rank of orthodox Christian bishops is a pastoral staff  with serpents. That is:

“A tall staff of precious metal topped by two serpents with a cross in the center. This is a sign of the Bishop's authority. The serpents represent the visible and invisible enemies of the Church and the Cross symbolizes the power which Christ has granted to the Church and is entrusted to the Bishop. The staff also reminds us of the staff of Moses with which he led the Israelites to the promised land and the good shepherd tending to his flock. [8]



The Collection


Monogrammatic Crosses

Roman bronze sculpture of St. Peter with a  monogrammatic cross. 4th century.

 Berlin, Kaiser Friedrich Museum.


Reliquiary with scenes from the Bible

Thessaloniki (?), 2nd half 4th century.  Chased silver, 9,7 Î 12,4 Î 10 cm.

Origin:  Excavations of Nea Herakleia (Chalkidike) in 1966.

Thessaloniki. Archeological Museum, Inv. 10070.


Box shaped reliquiary of chased silver, decorated with scenes from the Bible. The four sides represent: The front: Traditio Legis of Christ presenting the Law of the New Covenant to the apostles Peter and Paul; left: Daniel in the lion’s den; back: The three youths in the oven; right: Mozes receiving the law. The lid decorated with a Christogram and the letters A and Ѡ and a branch of vine along the vertical very damaged rim. The four scenes have often been used as a decoration for sarcophaguses and in catacombs. The Traditio Legis appeared for the first time in the middle of the 4th century and consequently gives the terminus a quo for the dating of the reliquiary. It may originate from a workshop in Thessaloniki.


Lit.: Panayotidi, M. & A. Grabar: un reliquiaire paléo-chrétien récemment découvert près de Thessalonique. In: C.A. XXIV (1975), pp. 33-48; Buschhausen, H.: Die spätrömischen Matalscrinia und frühchristlichen Reliquiare. Wenen, 1971, pp. 234-239; Michaelidis, M.: Αργυρα λειψανοθηχη του Μουσειου Θεσσαλονιχ


Theodosius I, the Great



390 ca. Monogrammatic cross between two warriors

Rome, Musei Vaticani inv. Lat. n° 170. (Cas. Tav. XXXIX 2)




403. Monogrammatic cross on the Pile of Arcadius. (Cas. Tav. XXXIV 2.)



Emperor 393-423



Honorius AV Solidus. Ravenna mint, after death of Arcadius AD 408-423. DN HONORIVS P F AVG, helmeted, diademed, draped & cuirassed bust right / VICTORIA AVGGG, emperor standing facing, holding long Tau-Rho, left hand on hilt of sword, he is crowned by the Hand of God & places right foot on prostrate serpent-tailed lion, R left, V right, COB in ex.



Baptistery of Naples Cathedral, 5th century. Mosaic on the vault.

Christ between Paul and Peter the last with a monogrammatic cross-staff


Baptistery of Naples Cathedral, 5th century. Mosaic on the vault

 A monogrammatic cross in a star spangled sky


Ivory reliquiary-case from  Samagher (ca 440). Museo Archeologico, Venezia.


The relief is a picture of the ciborium over the tomb of St Peter, built under the reign of Constantine the Great in the old St. Peter in Rome.


Nella cassettina d’avorio già a Pola ora al Correr di Venezia, riconosciuta opera sicuramente romana di committenza aulica e destinazione ufficiale, datata circa al 440, è convenuto che il centro del lato anteriore raffiguri l’iconema-fulcro del fascione absidiale degli antichi mosaici della basilica vaticana, eretta da Costantino sulla tomba di Pietro e dedicata al Christo in memoria della vittoria al Ponte Milvio, la cui decorazione ‘figurata’ è ascritta (circa 342-44) al figlio Costante, in occasione della sua vittoria sui barbari Franchi. (Lit.: M. Guarducci: La capsella eburnea di Samagher).


Valentinianus III



Tomb destined for Valentian III.

Mausoleo di Galla Placidia, Ravenna.

On the side of the lid a monogrammatic cross between a A and a Ѡ


monogrammatic cross on a mosaic from Africa. Tunis, Museum Bardo. (Cas. Tav. LVI 2)

monogrammatic cross in Tebessa (Syria). Museum of the temple of Minerva 

monogrammatic cross in the Museum of the  Basilica in Tebessa (Syria) (Cas. Tav. LXIX



Monogrammatic cross of Byzantine manufacture, found in Italy.


Mauricius Tiberius

Emperor 582 - 602


Solidus, 583-601

Behelmte Büste mit Perldiadem, Paludament, Panzer und Kreuzglobus en face. L.: O N MAVRC - TIb P P AVC. Rs: Victoria mit Chrismonstab und Kreuzglobus en face stehend. L.: VICTORI - A AVCC I / CONOB. 4,49g. Æ  22 mm. No.: 1018. Sear 478. DOC 5 j. MIB 6. Leichte Stempelrostspuren, Stempelglanz.


On the reverse an angels hold a monogrammatic staff and an orb


Theodore I

Exarch of Ravenna 643-666


Sarcophagus of Archbishop Theodore, San Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna


On it are two  P-cyphers within a crown of laurel. On the head and foot sides latin crosses. On the long side of the coffin  another christogram supported by two peacocks in a vineyard.  To explain this we have to assume that the owned of the tomb has been two times a bishop and also a high ranking commander, for example a caesar.  The symbol with the two peacock is certainly the one of the military staff of a prefect. The legend on the cover reads HIC REQUIESCAT IN PACE THEODORVS VB ARCHIEPISCOPVS. Probably the tomb was of an exarch of Ravenna of which there have been two of the name of Theodore: Theodore I Calliopas (643-645 & 653-before 666) and Theodore II (678-689).


The Shepard’s Crook


Mostra "I Longobardi. Dalla caduta dell'Impero all'alba dell'Italia", Palazzo Bricherasio, Torino - Abbazia della Novalesa (TO), 28 settembre 2007 - 6 gennaio 2008


Il progetto espositivo ha poi un'appendice presso l'Abbazia della Novalesa, fondata nel 726 dal nobile franco Abbone, dove viene proposta una selezione di sculture e di altri manufatti artistici che illustrano l'evoluzione dell'arredo liturgico nell'Italia nord-occidentale tra il VI e il IX secolo.


Probably this staff belonged to the objects exposed.


Crosse de Saint Germain.

Cloisonné d'or et d'argent, pierres de couleurs vertes disposées en S, taille 119 cm, Ø 23 cm, VIIe s. Les ornements en filigrane ont été ajoutés après la mort du saint, selon la coutume irlandaise et dans un style typiquement mérovingien. (Musée jurassien, Delémont).


Crozier of St Denis.

On an engraving of André Felibien of the treasure of St. Denis Basilica

Probably from the 8th cewntuery. The veneration of St. Denis was spread in Europe by Pope Stephen II (752) who came from France.

The staff can be compared with other like staffs in the Book of Kells and younger Irish staffs. The fleur de lis was probably added later


La crosse du dolmen de la Folatière

Coll. Musée d’Angoulème


Un des orthostates d’un des dolmens de type angoumoisin de la Folatière à Luxé, aujourd’hui détruit et dont ne subsiste plus que cette élément, porte une crosse réservée en léger relief lors de sa mise en forme. Ce symbole, de signification précise incertaine, est également connu en Charente dans le dolmen A de la Boixe. D’autrese exemples sont attestés en France de l’Ouest; ils sont particulièrement nombreux en Bretagne.


Representation of a bishop with crozier in the  Book of Kells


The Fillan Crozier


The Quigrich was St. Fillan’s pastoral staff or crozier. Only the head now remains, and is on display in Scottish National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh. Many generations of artists have added decorations to the silver work in acts of devotion.

St. Fillan’s death is recorded as 9th January 777 (Julian Calendar).



The Clomacnoise Crozier. Late 11th century; 15th century A.D..

Clonmacnoise, Co Offaly.  NMI: R. 2988


Lismore Crozier, ca. 1100 A.D.

Head of gilt bronze crozier

Found at Lismore, Co. Waterford. (National Museum of Ireland)


The Modern Crozier



IV. 58, fol 1r

Isidor von Sevilla, Etymologiae

Einsiedeln, 970-980

Pergament, 390 Seiten

Mittelalterlicher Holzleder-Einband, mit Wildleder überzogen

H. 33,8 cm, B. 29 cem

Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. 167 (140)



Archbishop of Treves 977-993


Seal of Egbert.


Archbishop with crozier Æ 4,4 cm. L.: X EKBERTVS • ARHCI • EPISC. Urk. 09.08.0978. Trier Stadtbibliothek Urk. J 12



Archbishop of Cologne 999-1021


Archbishop with crozier, pallium and bible.


Seal:  Æ 7,2 cm. L.: X HERIBERTVS • SERVVS • SCI • PETRI. Urk. 01.03.1009 (Histor. Archiv d Stadt Köln, HUA 5.)



Archbishop of  Magdeburg 1004-1012


Sakramentar mit Kalender. Fol. 24r.

St. Gallen, zweite Hälfte 10. Jahrhundert.

Bruxelles, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Ms. 1814-16.


Drei Miniaturen auf der Vorderseite dürfen erst nachträglich im 10. oder 11. Jahrhundert hinzugefügt worden sein. [....] Spätestens zu Beginn des 11. Jahrhundertds kam das Buch nach Magdeburg, wahrscheinlich durch Erzbischof Tagino (1004-1012) (Ottonen Kat. p. 360)


Stab des Abtes Reginhard (1048 -1061)

 in St.Eucharius/Matthias , Trier.


Der sogenannte Stab des heiligen Reginbald wird neben vielen anderen Exponaten in der Ausstellung “805: Liudger wird Bischof – Spuren eines Heiligen zwischen York, Rom und Münster” ab 12. März im Stadtmuseum Münster gezeigt. Der Bischofsstab, der in der Heiltumskammer der Basilika St. Ulrich und Afra in Augsburg verwahrt wird, ist mit kostbaren Elfenbeinschnitzereien geschmückt und stammt aus dem 11. oder 12. Jahrhundert.


A like crozier of ivory but with only one winding in the Museo Archeologico in Torcello (Ven.)


Durand de Bredons, premier abbé clunisien de Moissac (1048-1072).



Abt Wilhelm von Hirsau († 1091)

im Schenkungsbuch von Kloster Reichenbach (Baden-Württemberg)

Quelle: Wikipedia


From the Libro de los Testamentos, Castile, 1109


Sandstone tympan (1122-1132 ca) from Egmond Abbey (Holland)

St. Peter venerated by count Dirk VI of Holland and his mother Petronilla.

Coll. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam


Crozier of a bishop of Nidaros, 12th cent.

Museum of Natural History and Archaeology, Trondheim


Crosse dite de saint Robert de Molesme


Anonyme italien

Italie du Sud, ou Sicile, fin 11e siècle - début 12e siècle

Orfèvrerie, Argent : doré ; décor de filigrane, cabochons : améthyste, grenat

Hauteur : 21,3 ; Diamètre du crosseron : 8,5 ; H. du crosseron : 8

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon

CA 1455 Saisie révolutionnaire : abbaye de Cîteaux, 1799, CA 1455

Photo : François JAY © Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon


La crosse de Robert de Molesme est présente au musée depuis 1799. Saisie en 1791 dans le trésor de l'abbaye de Cîteaux, elle échappa à la fonte qui causa la disparition de tant de pièces d'orfèvrerie, en raison de sa valeur de souvenir historique : elle passe en effet pour avoir appartenu à celui qui fonda la célèbre abbaye en 1098. Rien ne permet de vérifier l'exactitude de cette tradition. Si l'objet figure bien sur l'inventaire du trésor de Cîteaux en 1689, on n'en connaît aucune mention antérieure. Par ailleurs, son complexe travail de filigrane, relevé de deux cabochons de verre rouge et violet, n'a guère d'équivalent dans l'orfèvrerie française du XIe siècle. C'est avec des pièces de tradition byzantine que la crosse trouve des comparaisons : on a proposé de la rattacher à la production des orfèvres d'Amalfi du XIe siècle. Cette datation n'interdit pas de supposer que la crosse soit celle remise à Robert par l'évêque de Chalon en 1098, pour marquer son autorité sur la communauté qu'il venait de créer. Mais comment expliquer la venue d'un tel objet en Bourgogne, et son utilisation dans une communauté encore très modeste ? En revanche, le succès, dès le XIIe siècle, de l'ordre cistercien, qui essaima dans toute l'Europe et jusqu'à la Méditerranée, permettrait d'expliquer avec plus de vraisemblance la présence d'une telle pièce dans le trésor de Cîteaux. extrait de : Le musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, RMN, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, Paris, 2002 (notice de Sophie Jugie)


Tomb of abbot Petrus a Stella of Fontgombault †1114


Hic translatus est XXIX Ivlii MCMLIV

 Petrus a Stella

Fontis Gombaudi

Fvndator et Abbasi

In pace evocatus




Musée national du Moyen Âge  / Thermes et Hôtel de Cluny, Paris, France




Head of a crozier. Walrus tusk, England, ca. 1120–1130.



Credit line

Purchase, 1893

Accession number

Cl. 13066


Room 11


Jastrow (2006)



bishop of Bamberg 1139-1146



Seal of Egilbert, bishop of Bamberg, 1139-1146. Sitting bishop with crozier and bible, on his head a mitre. H.: 8,5 Î W.: 6,5 cm. L.: X EGILBERTVS • D[e]I • GR[ati]A • (B[a]B[en]B[en]GENSIS) • ECCL(esi) E •EP (iscopu)S.

München, Bayrisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Abt. I, Kl. Urk. Prüfening 16: 1143, April 20.


See also:

Elizabeth den Hartog: De Kromstaf van Ename (Oudenaarde prov. Oost.Vl) Een pastoraal gezagssymbool uit de 12e eeuw. (in Dutch)


St Nicholas Crozier


Winchester, England (probably), 1150 - 1170

Carved ivory, Width 11 cm Î height 12 cm

V&A Museum No. 218-1865


Bishops, and sometimes abbots, carry a crozier as a symbol of office. It resembles the crook used by a shepherd when looking after his flock. This crozier shows scenes relating to Jesus Christ and St Nicholas. At the end of the volute (or scroll) an angel supports the Lamb of God, a symbolic image of Christ. Its head is now missing. On the other side is the Nativity (or birth) of Christ. Angels appear to shepherds and announce Christ's birth on one side of the shaft.

The rest of the crozier shows three scenes from the Life of St Nicholas. According to tradition, St Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, a town in Asia Minor, in the late Roman period. The first scene depicts his birth. The choice of scenes suggests that the crozier was made for a bishop or abbot who was either named after the saint or in charge of a foundation (cathedral or monastery) dedicated to him.  This crozier is one of the finest achievements of the ivory carver's art.


Head of a crozier from Ireland, found at Helgö, near Stockholm, Sweden.

Ekerö, Sweden: crozier, enamelled bronze; early 8th century.

Statens Historiska Museum, Stockholm



Archbishop of Trèves 1152-1169



Sitting bishop with crozier, pallium and bible, on his head a phrygium. H. 8,2 Î B 6,4 cm. L.: X HILLIN • DI • GRA • TREVIRORVM • ARCHI • EPISCOPVS. Urk. 11.03.1159 (Trier Stadbibliothek, Urk H. 16.)


Crosse funeraire en bronze doré et émaillé,

ornée d’une Vierge et d’un Christ en majesté.

Provient de la cathedrale d’Angoulème. Depôt de l’Etat.

Musée d’Angoulème.


Detail of the crozier of Mondoñedo, 1199-1218.

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya


Bamberg, Diözesanmuseum

Krümme eines Bischofstabes (so. Stab des hl. Otto)

Limoges Erste Hälfte des 13 Jahrhunderts


Crozier with snake and lion.

Champlevé enamel over gilt copper, ca. 1200, Limoges


Musée du Louvre, Paris, France OA 7287. Department of Decorative Arts, Richelieu, 1st floor, room 2  (Gift of F. Doistau, 1919).


Crozier with Serpent Devouring a Flower, ca. 1200–1220

French, made in Limoges

Gilded copper; champlevé enamel; glass cabochons; H. 9 1/8 in. (23.2 cm)

Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917. (MMA, New York)



Musée du Louvre, Paris, France




Crozier representing a lamb. Italy, 13th century, carved ivory.



Credit line

Gift of F. Doistau, 1919

Accession number

OA 7267


Department of Decorative Arts, Sully, first floor, room 2


Jastrow (2005)


Heinrich von Finstingen

Archbishop of Treves 1260-1286


Crosier of archbishop Heinrich of Finstingen 1260-1286,

from Limoges, middle of the 13th century. Located in the Domschatz Trier.


Crosse de cuivre et doré

Milieu du XIIIe siècle.

Dite de St. Louis d’Anjou, évèque de Toulouse en 1296-‘97

Toulouse, St. Sernin

Crozier Head with Eagle of St. John

Italian (?), thirteenth century
Ivory And glass oaste inlay, height 8 ins

Walters Art Museum, Baltimore



Ivoire, traces de polychromie; approx. entre 1325 et 1350

Musée du Louvre, Jeanne d'Evreux Aile Richelieu - Premier étage - Section 03 Vitrine : V69  Région en relation : Paris (France) Acquisition: 1828.



Objets d'Art MMA New York
Objet de culte (Crosseron). Date : XIVème siècle; Artiste : Anonyme; Modèle : Jésus-Christ


The Reichenau Crozier

Germany, 1351

Gilt copper, partly encrusted with enamel on silver and set with gems

V&A Museum no. 7950-1862





In 1862 the Museum bought a crozier, or staff carried by a bishop, from the great collection of Prince Soltikoff, who had gathered together reliquaries, crosses, croziers, ewers - every kind of object that had been looted or sold from the treasures of Europe during the political and military upheavals of the late 18th and early 19th century.

This crozier came from the famous and ancient island monastery of Reichenau in the middle of Lake Constance, which borders on Germany and Switzerland. It is known from the inscription engraved in Lombardic capitals on the silver ring at the base, which says: 'In the year of our Lord 1351 this staff was made for Abbot Master Eberhard of Brandis, the worthy superior, through Master Nicholas of Gutenberg treasurer of this monastery (or chapter) of Reichenau.' (A.D.M. CCC.L.I. FCVS. E. BACLS. ISTE + DNO. EB. D'. BRADIS, ABBE. HON. PSIDENTE. DNO. NICOL. D. GUTEBG. THES'. IBIDE. AVGA. AIOR. P.C'.).

Eberhard de Brandis was abbot in 1353 when the great Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV visited the Abbey, and it is not too fanciful to imagine that he went to meet him with his symbol of office, this new crozier, in his hand. It was also he who, through careless and spendthrift rule (1343-79), was largely responsible for reducing the abbey to

poverty and insignificance by the end of the century. His crozier is very close in form to three others all dating from the 14th century, one belonging to Cologne Cathedral Treasury, another to the Bishopric of Haarlem and the third to New College, OxfordThe essential characteristics of them all are the applied enamelled plaques, the crockets on the curve of the crook, the supporting angel beneath the crook and the architectural knop. The others are, however, finer examples of goldsmith's work, with more delicate chasing and made throughout of precious metals. The framework of the Victoria & Albert Museum's crozier is of cast and chased copper-gilt, built up in sections, the lower part of the stem, and lower and upper part of the knop, for example, all being separate.

Within the crook a mitred figure, presumably Eberhard de Brandis, is shown kneeling before the Virgin and Child. The angel, who at some stage has lost his wings, supports the crook and below him kneels the small figure of the treasurer of Reichenau, Nicholas of Gutenberg. The long strips of enamelled silver are attached to the head of the crozier by foiled, alternately blue and white gems, and by rosettes. The knop is gabled and pinnacled to resemble a shrine, framing the figures on the enamelled plaques as though they were brightly coloured statues in niches. These figures represent the Virgin and Child, the three Kings, St Mary Magdalen and perhaps St Pirmin, the first abbot of Reichenau.



The Reichenau Crozier, 1351. Museum no. 7950-1862

The enamelling is the most important part of the object and is of the translucent 'basse-taille' kind which was common throughout Europe in the 14th century. This is a technique generally believed to have been developed in Italy during the latter part of the 13th century, and involves chasing and engraving the design on silver (or gold) to give the effect of a shallow bas-relief. The glass flux is then laid over it and fired so that the light reflects back through the enamel, revealing the outlines, the varying levels of the ground giving light and shade to the colour.

On the figurative plaques in the knop the predominant colours are royal blue and emerald green, with a dark purple and pink, while the details of the features are added with opaque black enamel. The abstract decorative strips on the rest of the crozier make great use of opaque red enamel in conjunction with emerald green and royal blue.



Where does it come from? The answer to this question can only be guessed at, not proven. Very little is known about the workshops where such enamels were produced but surviving examples suggest that they were being made in France, England, Spain and the whole of the Rhineland as well as Italy. In the Upper Rhineland, there were two main centres of production: Constance and Basle. Of these, the closest to Reichenau was Constance, so it is possible that the crozier was made there.

Another piece, definitely from Constance, is the chalice from St Johann zu Konstanz (in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore -at the time when this text was written) which was made thirty years previously. Although the enamelling is technically much finer, there are clear similarities in the conventions for representing the features and the hair, so this supports the inherent probability of the crozier's manufacture there.

There is some restoration to the enamelling, probably carried out in Paris (where Soltikoff lived) about 1850-60.


Written by Anna Somers Cocks, 1978, and published in the V&A Masterpieces series.

Revised 2006. Schools & Students 


Ivory crook of a crozier,

 Mainz ( ), end 14th century

Museum Kurhaus Kleve, Ewald Mataré Coll.



Diocese of Limerick, O'Dea Crozier


Seven-and-a-half feet in height and weighing about ten pounds, the O'Dea Crozier is made of silver for the most part, ornamented along the shaft with crowns and chaste work. Within the crook in the open part is a silver figure of the Blessed Virgin seated with a dove suspended over her head. Also to be seen are the figure of the Angel Gabriel in a kneeling attitude and the figure of a lily growing out of a ewer. The crook is supported by a pelican with outstretched wings feeding her young. Below the curve are the enamelled figures of Saints Brigid, Barbara, Catherine, Margaret, and two others who bear no distinctive emblems, all under canopies. Below these are the figures of the Blessed Trinity, Saints Peter and Paul, Saint Patrick, an unknown bishop, and the Blessed Virgin, under rich canopies. Round the base is a wreath of enamelling containing the name and title of the bishop: "Me fieri fecit Corneli, O’Deaygh Epus Limiricens, Anno Dom MCCCCXVIII consecracionis sue anno XVIII" [Cornelius O’Dea, Bishop of Limerick, caused me to be made AD 1418, and in the eighteenth year of his consecration].

These relics have been carefully preserved, and are greatly admired by lovers of the fine arts, as they are splendid specimens of what Irish artists were able to turn out in the fifteenth century. They have been exhibited at the Dublin Exhibition of 1862, and at the Congress of the Archaeological Society, England, the same year. They have been worn on solemn occasions by the recent Bishops Butler and O’Dwyer.

Currently the mitre and crozier are on display in Limerick’s Hunt Museum.



Crozier of the patriarchs of Venice, 1420.

Silver on wood, partly gilded, over all length 194 cm.

Treasury of the San Marco, Venice inv. nr. 30. [9]


Pastorale del vescovo Giorgio Hack, 1458 (?)

argento dorato, rame dorarto, cristalli colorati e smalto 193 Î 19 cm. 

Museo Diocesano Tridentino, Trente


Johann von Dalberg

Bishop of Worms 1482-1503


Bischofsstab Bischof Johanns von Dalberg (1482-1503);

heute: Historisches Museum Speyer


Bischofsstab Albrechts, 1539,


H. 185 cm, Stockholm,

Statens Historiska Museum



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© Hubert de Vries 2014-10-28. Updated 2016-01-20



[1] That is to say on the  sarcophagus  of Archbishop Theodorius in the S. Apollinare in Classe in Ravenna. On it are two  P-cyphers within a crown, a christogram within a crown and a christogram supported by two peacocks. To explain this we have to assume that the owner of the tomb has been two times a bishop and also a high ranking commander, for example a caesar.  The symbol with the two peacock is certainly the one of the military staff of a prefect. Probably the tomb was of an exarch of Ravenna of which there were two of the name of Theodore: Theodore I Calliopas (643-645 & 653-before 666) and Theodore II (678-689).

[2] The head of this statue in the Capitoline Museum in Rome. Casartelli, p. 56.

[3] Lactantius Firmianus, Lucius Caecilius: De mortibus persecutorum.. Casartelli op. cit. ‘96,  pp. 55-56

[4] The expression „The Christ of God” occurs in Eusebius 29. When not the combination ÈXP is meant one wonders why there is not simply told of a ‘cross with a curl on top”.  

[5] The corresponding titles in Islam are “Commander of the Faithful”  (Amir al–Muminin) and “Sword of the Commander of the Faithful” (Sayf Amir al-Muminin).

[6] A collection  +P-cyphers in Cechelli, op. cit. 1953 and Casartelli op. cit. 1996

[7] Pontificale Romanum, vol. I. p. 459

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[9]  De Schatkamer van de San Marco, Venetië. ’s Gravenhage, 1991. Nr. 47.